Actor Jonah Hill's agent has Lakers season tickets, courtside seats right next to the home team's bench. Hill gets to sit in them four or five times a season, experiencing the good and the bad that comes with such a prime position.
The good: Being able to chat with Kobe Bryant. Hill told Jimmy Kimmel that Bryant told the actor, " 'I love your movies,' and he started quoting 'Superbad' and stuff. It was mind-blowing for me." The bad: This can happen when you change seats near the Lakers bench and Phil Jackson notices and become annoyed.
During one game, Hill recalled, the HBO comedy "Curb Your Enthusiasm" was filming and the crew asked Hill if it could briefly use Hill's seats. Hill moved two seats over, waited for the film crew to complete its business, then moved back to his original seat.
"All of a sudden," Hill said, "Phil Jackson, who's never looked in our direction, turns to us and says, 'Hey, this isn't musical chairs! Next time you move around during a play I'll kick you . . . out of here!'
"It was the most terrible feeling because I look up to this guy so much."
In other words, Jackson was telling Hill to curb his enthusiasm.
Name the major league pitcher who hit two grand slams in one game.
Pirates to go
With their trades of second baseman Freddy Sanchez and shortstop Jack Wilson, the Pittsburgh Pirates have completed a full roster overhaul since late 2007, when Neal Huntington took over as general manager.
The moves, predictably, were not well-received by Pirates fans, whose team hasn't finished above .500 since 1992. The trades also left the Pirates with a payroll of $31 million, about $20 million less than opening day.
Responding to fan criticism, Huntington said, "We don't feel like we've broken up the 1927 Yankees."
True, but no Pirates fan was eager to witness the second coming of the 1962 Mets.
Anyone for a robotic umpire?
Stephen Colbert, host of Comedy Central's "The Colbert Report," noted that Japanese engineers have created a robotic pitcher capable of throwing strikes 90% of the time and a robotic batter who never misses on pitches thrown in the strike zone.
"That's not baseball," Colbert said. "The whole point of baseball is to stand in one place long enough for the people in the bleachers to become so bored they'll pay $10 for a beer.
"This undermines everything the game stands for folks. For instance, where would a baseball-playing robotic arm even inject steroids?
"Besides, we would have to create an entire robotic Congress for them to lie to, and the worst part is, it takes all the fun out of scandals. Who wants to read about a baseball player cheating on his wife with a toaster oven?"
Tony Cloninger of the Atlanta Braves on July 3, 1966, against the San Francisco Giants.
(Question and answer provided by reader Kevin James of Santa Monica.)
From Jim Armstrong of the Denver Post: "Just wondering. Do both of Ron Artest's personalities count against the Lakers' salary cap?"