By Tim Baffoe-

(CBS) Game play is of ultimate importance when I’m taking in a sport. I want the most entertaining product possible—if I have a dog in the race, then that means my preferred team winning by any means possible and hopefully in the least Pyrrhic way possible, and if I’m impartial to the participants, I just want a close, fun battle.

The aesthetics of it all are gravy at best, most notably a team’s uniforms. Sure, I’ll be as impressed or appalled at some new sports fashion statement as anyone else and use it for comedic ammo, but it doesn’t affect the way I consume a game.

Nowhere have we seen more consistent controversy in visuals than college football. Oregon alone has become for beer-chugging Saturday enthusiasts the near weekly equivalent of Robert Pattinson/Kristen Stewart OMG-ness.

Notre Dame, my favorite college team and one of the more traditional, conservative and historic ones, has apparently jumped into the shock-value uniform game. Upon first seeing them, I responded as most did—they’re very, very terrible. An abomination to a program with such otherwise iconic uniforms.

But that was because they were sudden and different—humans tend to naturally hate that. After examining them for a while, I actually don’t mind them. First of all, they will be worn for one game at a site that isn’t the Irish’s home stadium vs. a team in Miami that has a history of being ridiculously corrupt. “How can players being exploited for profit but probably being compensated under the table wear these uniforms created to generate profit?!” C’mon on.  Notre Dame, too, has struggled to be football relevant for years now, to fulfill the hype that its name alone brings. Controversial uniforms put the Fighting Irish back into national conversation, get social media abuzz, and generate even a little bit more interest in TV viewing than the standard blue and gold would have. And, really, they aren’t all that ugly. I like the number design, in fact, and the most off-putting part, the helmet, becomes less of an eye-sore when you notice that the colors don’t clash and the “literal leprechaun” that half of Chicago Irish Americans has tattooed somewhere on their bodies doesn’t look half bad.

Remember, it’s just laundry. It will have nothing to do with the performance of what will likely be an underachieving team.

On to your questions. All e-mails and tweets are unedited:

if the cubs have a chance to clinch the world series where would you watch it? #TFMB—@pboline

I vividly remember watching the Bartman game in a bar on S. Western Ave. My buddy, a fellow Cubs fan, left immediately after the play saying he knew they would lose. I stuck around until the end, with half the bar of predominantly White Sox fans consoling me and the other half mocking me. That wasn’t exactly fun.

Game 7 of that series was spent with family. My relatives are largely insane—lovable, but not right in the head. This is no more evident than when watching sports with them. Blowing a trip to the World Series was made exponentially worse with my uncle yelling that the Cubs will never win a championship and that there was no longer a reason for the franchise to exist.

Yeah, so, probably not those two environments in the future.

It would be easy to say I’d prefer to be alone for such a historic moment, but I really hate watching sports by myself on my couch. I like to be able to turn to someone and comment, and even though most bar patrons are insufferable, there is still a sort of charm to listening to some idiot yell at the TV about Lovie Smith not talking into his headset (which is really just a more polite way to call him a racial slur in public, right?). Most are not as acutely bad as this guy and are largely harmless. Twitter has helped make sports “social” while you’re alone, but I can work a phone keypad while in a tavern with friends, too.

Ideally, I would surround myself with Cubs fans for a clinching game, most of whom would be close friends. If the Cubs win, I will definitely cry, and I’d appreciate having guys around me that either likely would also or least would give me grief for it. The actual place and geography really would be all that important. I don’t think I need to be away from the South Side (just certain bars that tend to be a haven for idiots). Hell, I’d likely buy every Sox fan a drink while celebrating. The concept of the Cubs being that close is so foreign to me that accurately predicting the wheres and hows is damn near unthinkable, though.

any advice for a recently certified teacher looking for a job? (serious, honest question)—@KevRyan81

Have a backup plan. Make sure you have income while looking to land a job that isn’t going to pay much anyway.

And since you’re looking for a classroom gig, make absolutely sure you want to do this. Most teachers quit after two years because they didn’t know what they were getting into. (The backup plan comes into play here, too.)

Whoever certified you to be a teacher lied to you for the most part. My professors at Governors State are awesome people and did a fantastic job preparing me to be a teacher, and I am indebted to them forever, but they also lied to me. In college, potential teachers are taught more toward the ideal than the real. I was required to spend hours on lesson plans that on paper looked revolutionary to the education profession and had absolutely no chance of being actually applied to a room full of thirty different teenage personalities and skill sets. Also, I was made to believe that my students would be these delicate little flowers, where in fact they are for the most part the realest, most interesting, funniest individuals I know, but only because I let them be.

I don’t care how much you know about your subject area—there are many people I know that are far better and/or more prolific readers and writers (definitely writers) than I am. Can those people keep the attention of a classroom of kids? Likely no.

Classroom management is 90% of teaching, and that comes down to whether or not your students respect you. If they don’t, you’re screwed, nothing of substance will be accomplished in your classroom, and years will be taken off of your life. Also, that respect is pretty much decided in the first few days of the schoolyear. Teenagers are predatory beings—they look for weakness and exploit it. People look at me funny when I say this, but nothing sums up my approach to teaching more succinctly than the scene in the van from one of the greatest films ever made, Point Break.

Now, to the busybodies ready to have me fired right now, I obviously don’t use threats of violence to gain respect, but I do lay out rules for my classroom and the consequences for breaking them, and I stick by them. I make them understand that while they may be predatory, I’m higher on the food chain, and I command respect on the first day of class and let the students know how miserable their experience in my class will be if they choose not to respect me—I make it their choice, and kids like being able to choose (or at least thinking they have that ability). That choice includes being respected by me, and they appreciate that. I treat them like people instead of what society stereotypes them to be. I don’t lie to them, and within reason I don’t censor them. After I’ve established alpha dog status, I emphasize fun. If the students aren’t having fun learning, I’m not having fun teaching, and I don’t want to show up to work every day and not enjoy myself.

I’m fortunate enough to be able to consistently make kids laugh, and I don’t consider that tooting my own horn because who cares that I can make thirty teens laugh at an otherwise bad joke? But I learned early on that if they’re laughing, they’re listening. The majority of my teaching is bad stand up comedy, but it seems to work.

I don’t know if you’re funny or interesting or scary or what, but if you have to command respect and keep your students’ attention. Otherwise, please go sell insurance or something.

Would you keep Willis McGahee at $11 if your fantasy auction budget were $200 for 2QBs, 3RB, 3WR etc?—@TheTriviaJockey

Usually I’d see McGahee as a solid keeper pick—I assume you’re in a keeper league based on the question—with $11 being a decent price. But the Broncos don’t usually have one of the greatest passers of a generation.

Even though Peyton Manning is old and coming off a major injury, his arm has to threaten McGahee’s fantasy production. The rest of the AFC West allowed 83 passing TDs last season vs. 37 rushing TDs. As your third back or maybe your second back with a great WR corps, you could do worse. Realize, though, that McGahee will be 31 in October and might need to be spelled a bit more than last season where he carried the ball 249 times. I’d be worried if he was my top fantasy back for sure.

Thanks for emailing, tweeting, and reading. If your question did not get answered this time, that does not necessarily mean I am ignoring it. It may be saved for the next mailbag. Hopefully you’re a slightly better person now than you were ten minutes ago. If not, your loss.

Want your questions answered in a future Mailbag? Email them to or tweet them with the hashtag #TFMB. No question, sports or otherwise, is off limits (with certain logistical exceptions, e.g. lots of naughty words or you type in Portuguese or you solicit my death). If you email, please include a signature.

tim baffoe small Ten Foot Mailbag: Notre Dames New Uniforms And Watching A Cubs World Series

Tim Baffoe

Tim Baffoe attended the University of Iowa and Governors State University and began blogging at The Score after winning the 2011 Pepsi Max Score Search. He enjoys writing things about stuff, but not so much stuff about things. When not writing for, Tim corrupts America’s youth as a high school English teacher and provides a great service to his South Side community delivering pizzas (please tip him and his colleagues well). You can follow Tim’s inappropriate brain droppings on Twitter @Ten_Foot_Midget, but please don’t follow him in real life. E-mail him at To read more of Tim’s blogs click here.

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