July 4, 2004


Over the holiday weekend, I got the single most offensive, ridiculous and confusing e-mail from a reader that I've ever received. In the interest of keeping this a family (and safe for work) site, I have censored the offensive words, but I'm pretty sure the Mensa members among us can still figure out the intended message. I have not altered the overall content in any other way.

From Frank:


Nice column, jack-ass. Why don't you waste another 1,000 words telling us why your local grocery store sells more nutra-grain wheat bread than white on Tuesday's after 6 P.M. on even-numbered days. Or more two-ply toilet paper than the traditional kind. Show us some more numbers and some more percentages, Mr. James and Mr. Epstein, you f---ing fa---- c---sucking piece of s---, 'cause I believe everything that a punk f--- like you tries to ram down my throat.

I used to think you had something to offer, but now I understand your loser agenda with the Twins, and I feel embarrassed to've ever taken you seriously as a baseball writer. You are pure 100% horses---, and your opinion, despite the illusion that you've obviously bought and sold yourself, as a dumbass "journalism student" from East Buttf--- USA, means nothing. You and people like you are little more than a source of yucks for the more enlightened among us. You're probably a Bush supporter, right, a--hole? You f---ing piece of s---. I hope you and your family die from a slow form of cancer.

You're nothing more than another white punk with too much time and too much internet access. You suck Gleeman, you've lost any and all credibilty that I once assigned you. My mistake. Go f--- yourself and die slowly and horribly you f---ing punk c---sucker.


I kid you not, that's an actual e-mail. I got it at 8:19 p.m. Friday.

I figure an e-mail as well thought out and researched as that one deserves a detailed response, so here goes ...

Frank starts off by asking, "Why don't you waste another 1,000 words ..." Please, 1,000 words? My columns have 1,000-word introductions. Obviously not a long-time reader.

I also like that he is, essentially, comparing me to Bill James and Theo Epstein ("Show us some more numbers and some more percentages, Mr. James and Mr. Epstein"), and acting as if that is something other than a huge compliment. Oh no, don't put me in the same sentence as one of the greatest baseball writers of all-time and the GM of the Boston Red Sox!

Frank then says, "You are pure 100% horses---, and your opinion, despite the illusion that you've obviously bought and sold yourself, as a dumbass "journalism student" from East Buttf--- USA, means nothing."

For one thing, I'm only 98.2% horses---. I was actually tested for horses--- levels a while back and was surprised to be so low. Also, I am from Midwest Buttf---, USA, because Minnesota is quite clearly not in the "East."

Here's my favorite line from the entire e-mail: "You and people like you are little more than a source of yucks for the more enlightened among us. You're probably a Bush supporter, right, a--hole?"

First, I love the idea that someone who could write that e-mail is one of "the more enlightened among us." If true, what does that say about the rest of us? I mean, aside from the world being doomed and all. Also, going from that long rant into talking about George W. Bush is an amazing non-sequitur. I mean, after the first two paragraphs of the e-mail, I would have given at least 10-to-1 odds on the rest of the e-mail not containing any political discussion. And I would have been wrong!

To the statement "I hope you and your family die from a slow form of cancer," I say that at least a slow form of cancer is better than a fast form of cancer, right? Frank is clearly showing his compassionate side here and I appreciate that.

And here's the big finale: "You're nothing more than another white punk with too much time and too much internet access. You suck Gleeman, you've lost any and all credibilty that I once assigned you. My mistake. Go f--- yourself and die slowly and horribly you f---ing punk c---sucker."

I was a little confused with the "you're nothing more than another white punk" part. I mean, am I to assume that Frank, the writer of this e-mail, is not "another white punk"? And if he is not, and is instead African-American or Asian or whatever, does this mean we can add "racist" to the list of wonderful attributes Frank has displayed in this e-mail?

Also, the part about me having "too much internet access," while very true, is also funny. You see, Frank, you actually sent this lovely message to me via ELECTRONIC MAIL and you are complaining about my writing, all of which is found ON THE INTERNET.

On a serious note, I find it rather amazing that the e-mail was actually so well-written. There were few, if any, spelling mistakes and he did fairly well on punctuation too. Normally you would expect something like this to be written on a third-grade level (no offense to any third-graders reading this), but this was clearly penned by someone with some writing background, or at least someone who graduated high school.

In fact, after reading it, my first reaction was that it was a big joke, a funny e-mail sent to me by a buddy of mine or something. I mean, despite the length of the e-mail, I still wasn't even sure what specific problem Frank had or what specific column caused him to become so upset. So I sent Frank a very short reply, hoping to elicit another response from him. Here's what I sent:


Thanks for the e-mail, Frank. And thanks for reading!


Sure enough, just a few moments later, the man who mocked me for having "too much internet access" replied to my e-mail.


dude, I sent you an unadulterated compliment a few weeks ago, check your records, but apparently you were too busy to respond. That's the primary source of my anger, along with all of my own issues, of course. And now you aim to make me look bad with your detached and kindly response. Please, I know better. Maybe this is your uniform response to reader comments, and I'll be the first to admit to my jealousy, but I still say your stuff sucks.

And at the same time I tip my cap to you, you sonofab----!!!

And just like that, we see the Mary Kate Olsen-thin line between having a fan and having someone who hates you. Apparently Frank was a big fan, big enough to send me "an unadulterated compliment a few weeks ago," but I made the massive mistake of simply reading his initial e-mail, instead of reading it and sending him a personalized response.

Well, I learn from my mistakes, so I sent off another reply to Frank:


So let me get this straight ... you just sent me that incredibly profane, mean-spirited e-mail because I didn't respond to a complimentary e-mail you sent me earlier? I hate to tell you, but I get hundreds of e-mails per week. I don't have the time to personally respond to each one.

You compliment me one week and now my "stuff sucks"? Gee, thanks.


Again, just moments later, I got the following response:


aaron, you make much sense, but I seriously doubt the volume of e-mail you receive makes it impossible for you to acknowledge the compliments you receive, especially after you've discarded the nonsense. I've written to and been answered/acknowledged by guys like William Safire and Paul Krugman (NY Times writers that may be beyond your scope of intelligence) and my less profane messages have been answered by guys like John Donovan, Jim Caple, Bill Simmons, Tim Keown, Dan Shaughnessy, Tyler Kepner, et al, and you are hardly one to separate yourself from

that group. Get a grip on reality, dude if you disagree. You must be just getting back from vacation, which is fine.

The bottom line is that I like your stuff, because it's funny and and maybe my sense of self is inflated because of my years of experience, but I was just so pissed to be dismissed by you, I had to let loose.

Now, Frank does have a point, in that if I really made an effort and set aside a block time each day, I could read and reply to each and every e-mail I receive. Instead, I have chosen to simply read everything I get, including compliments from maniacs, and only reply to a portion of them that I feel need/warrant response.

Beyond that surprisingly lucid point, how hilarious is it that Frank suggests that by discarding "the nonsense" e-mails I would be more able to reply to e-mails like the one he sent me?

We've learned all kinds of things about Frank with this series of e-mails, the latest being that he enjoys corresponding with several prominent writers. Again, Frank makes a solid point, which is that I am hardly one to separate myself from the guys he lists.

Of course, I don't have Frank's original, supposedly complimentary e-mail on hand, so I can't even say that I ever received/read it, let alone whether or not I should have replied to it personally. Still, I will say that if all those writers Frank mentions take the time to read and respond to each and every e-mail they get, they are better men than I am (which we knew already, thanks to Frank's earlier attacks on my manhood).

Frank concluded his series of e-mails (I didn't respond to the last one, because I'm not that much of a glutton for punishment) by providing the entire basis of his anger: "I was just so pissed to be dismissed by you, I had to let loose."

So we learn that this entire thing, me losing a big fan and getting these crazy e-mails, could have been avoided if I had simply clicked "reply" after reading Frank's initial e-mail (assuming I ever got it, of course) and said something like, "Thanks for the e-mail. Glad you enjoy my writing!"

It seems almost too simple and I have to say, Frank's barrage of insanity did get me thinking about my e-mail-answering habits. I always just assumed that someone who sends me a quick compliment, like "Keep up the good work" or "I enjoy your writing" was simply doing so to let me know they like my work, not necessarily because they desperately need some sort of a response to what they've written. But perhaps I am wrong. Perhaps even the shortest e-mail and the smallest compliment deserve a response.

I suppose, in some small way, sending an e-mail to a writer you enjoy reading is like donating money to charity. Some people simply donate money to a charity because they want to do something nice. At the same time, some people donate money simply to be recognized for donating money.

Now, lest anyone think this sudden epiphany on my part was all because of "Crazy Frank." No, a few hours before Frank's series of e-mails came rolling in, I got the following e-mail from another, less-insane reader named Andrew:

Subject: Tempted to Email You About the Sox/Twins series

However I remembered you don't respond to emails from readers of your work.

And that's it, that's the entire e-mail. It is essentially just a different, nicer way of saying all that stuff Frank said in his e-mails, which basically boiled down to "I was just so pissed to be dismissed by you, I had to let loose."

This way is a little more subtle thank Frank's, and it also sort of gives the sense that I am actually missing out on Andrew's thoughts on the White Sox/Twins series because of my previous indiscretion. I e-mailed Andrew back, trying to explain myself, and got the following response:

Subject: Tempted to Email You About the Sox/Twins series

Thanks, I was trying to pry a response out of you.

Again, I had no idea that a simple response from me was so important. As Frank so eloquently put it earlier, I am just some "dumbass journalism student from East Buttf---, USA."

Here's the point ... I get literally dozens of e-mails per day. I get them from friends and family, from people in my various Diamond-Mind leagues, from readers of this blog, from readers of The Hardball Times, and from African dignitaries looking for financial help.

I read each and every e-mail I get (unless it appears to be spam) and I respond to a large number of them. However, I simply cannot -- or at least have chosen not to -- respond to them all. I could, I suppose, but would it be that much better to get some form e-mail from me thanking you for the e-mail? I think I would actually find that even more maddening if I were an e-mailer.

If simply sending me your thoughts and knowing that I read them is not enough, and you're desperate for a response to your e-mail, here are some general guidelines to follow ...

- Make it short. If I have to read 1,000 words about a subject in an e-mail, I'm very unlikely to respond to it. I'll read it, because I read everything that is sent to me, but usually afterward I don't have a whole lot to add. Occasionally, if the really lengthy ones are good, I'll reprint them here, of course. If you have a specific question, ask it. If you've got a comment, say it. But I am not really looking for dozens of Gleeman-length e-mails to read all day.

- Don't ask me about your fantasy team. If you have a question about the Twins, I'll be happy to answer it, but please don't send me an e-mail asking which middle reliever you should pick up, or if you should trade Juan Encarnacion for Jeff Conine. I have neither the time nor the interest to do that, and I don't mean that as a put-down to anyone with fantasy questions. It's just that there are many other people would be much happier answering fantasy-related inquiries. For instance, my colleague and friend Ben Jacobs over at The Hardball Times runs a "Fantasy Mailbag" each week and asks for questions from readers.

- Don't tell me what an idiot I am because I have a differing opinion from you. Now, I'm not saying you can't disagree with me on something or that you shouldn't tell me so, just that I am not usually interested in arguing with 25 people a day about something I've written. If I say something that is factually wrong, that's one thing. If I say something that you simply think is dumb, let me know about it, but don't always expect me to try to convince you otherwise via e-mail.

- Try to not sound like a complete, profanity-spewing, homophobic, racist lunatic. I think -- or at least I thought, before Friday -- that this one just went without saying. Incidentally, after this weekend, it might also be a good idea to change your name if it's "Frank."

Other than that, it's all a matter of whether or not I have something of substance to add in response to your e-mail. There's no great shame in simply sending someone an e-mail that they read and don't respond to, is there? I mean, if you send me a compliment, is it just to compliment me, or was the entire thing just a ruse to, as Andrew said, "Get a response out of me"?

Oh, by the way, I went back through my old mail and was able to Andrew's original e-mail. It was about the Freddy Garcia trade, it was right around 300 words long, and it started with, "I enjoy your writing but a few things slipped past you in your analysis of the Garcia trade."

So, while it wasn't a fantasy baseball question, Andrew hit on two of the other no-nos, with a lengthy e-mail and one that tells me what I've said wrong about something that is a matter of opinion. Again, it's not that Andrew's e-mail (or the e-mails like his) is a bad one or one that I don't enjoy getting, just that it's not the type of e-mail I feel compelled to respond to.

I've stated my opinion on the subject in question (the Garcia deal) and Andrew has several issues with my opinion. Am I now supposed to come back at him with an argument in favor of my side? I've already "argued" my side, in print, in a public forum, using thousands of words. Maybe it's just me being a jerk, but that's just not something I'm interested in doing again, after every article I write. He, like dozens of other people that day, sent me his comments on my article, I read them, took them into consideration, and that was the end of it. Or so I thought.

With all the said, I'm interested in making a little peace offering. You guys keep sending me all these e-mails, because I really do enjoy hearing from you (but not you, Frank). And if you try to keep them short and try to avoid asking me fantasy baseball questions, I'll make a concerted effort to respond to a larger percentage of them.

That sounds fair, right? Good, see ya tomorrow ...

Today's picks:

New York (Glavine) -115 over Philadelphia (Abbott)

Tampa Bay (Brazelton) +125 over Baltimore (Cabrera)

Total to date: -$2,190

W/L record: 120-154 (0-2 on Friday for -200.)

*****Comments? Questions? Email me!*****

No Comments

No comments yet.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.