By Rachel Nichols
Page 2

EDITOR'S NOTE: On occasion, we all need help. But where to turn? Fortunately, Rachel Nichols is here to bring us the special kind of advice that only the world's greatest athletes can dole out. Whether or not to take it … well, that's up to you. Today's Ill-Advised expert: Atlanta Braves rookie phenom Jeff Francoeur.

RACHEL: Seamheads, rejoice. The cracking bats, the popping of champagne corks, the steroids testimony … yep, postseason baseball's coming. And today, we get playoff-bound Braves rookie Jeff Francoeur to sit in the big chair. Although Jeff, you were born in 1984, so I'm not sure how much wisdom you've acquired yet. Think you have good enough advice for this scraggly bunch?

JEFF: I feel good about this.

Jeff Francoeur
Jeff Francoeur has had plenty of reasons to be happy in his first season in the bigs.

RACHEL: The kid is confident. I like this. So tell me, what's the best advice anyone ever gave you?

JEFF: Definitely just enjoy what you have, and don't take anything for granted.

RACHEL: This is in case you were feeling bored by being a rich, successful ballplayer at 21?

JEFF: Well, there are those times in the middle of the season when you've played so many days in a row. But if I ever forget how lucky I am, I have a lot of buddies around to remind me. Trust me. They are not subtle.

RACHEL: I believe you. Buddies give good advice. But now it's your turn to give advice to others, so let's see what you've got. Ben Franks from Denver writes, "I had mono last month, and I lost a lot of weight, and now my football coach says I need to put it back on fast. My mom says I can eat whatever I want. So what do you suggest?"

JEFF: Well, I had a hard time keeping weight on in high school, too, so I just ate a lot of protein. Protein shakes, protein meals …

RACHEL: Protein french fries? C'mon, Jeff, let's live a little here. When you're a kid, how often does your mom say, "You can eat whatever you want"?

JEFF: Well, of course, you can do what my roommate and I do now, which is go out and buy Taco Bell every night.

RACHEL: Now we're talking.

JEFF: About six soft tacos, two orders of nachos, plus four cheeseburgers from the dollar menu at McDonald's. I happen to know that you can put on weight very fast that way.

RACHEL: See, Ben, good advice, and we didn't even ask who you were kissing when you picked up mono. We're so discreet here. Now, I can't say the same for Sara Otterman in Arizona. She writes, "I manage our company softball team, and the woman who plays third base started going out with one of our worst players. He's been playing so much better since they started dating, but now she tells me she wants to break up with him. Our season's only three more weeks. How do I keep them together just a little longer?"

JEFF: It's her duty to stay with the guy. Just tell her that. I mean, if you have a ritual going, and it's working, you have to stick with it. There's no arguing there. When I'm at home, I eat Chick-fil-A every single day, eat the same meal, sit in the same seat. You just got to keep doing what's working.

RACHEL: OK, but there's a difference between saying, "Give me combo No. 3," and "I can't believe I have to go home with this guy again tonight."

JEFF: Hey, either you're a team player or you're not. Simple as that.

RACHEL: All right, Sara, you heard the man. Simple as that. Let's move on to Bill in Raleigh, N.C. He writes, "I've tried everything to improve my golf game. I've had lessons and even got one of those tapes. But I'm sick of working at it. Can't I just coast by on luck? Got any good-luck tricks so I can start hitting some pars?"

JEFF: I say just go out and start hitting it, and whatever's going to happen is going to happen. That's what I do in baseball; I just swing at the first few pitches, mostly. I don't wait much.

RACHEL: Maybe he should try the Chick-fil-A? The Jeff Francoeur special.

JEFF: Oh, I have some better good-luck rituals than that, but I can't say them here.

RACHEL: Oh, but you can.

JEFF: Well, I guess … no. Then we'd have X-rated, and that's not good.

RACHEL: I see. Bill, sounds like you might want to get in touch with Jeff privately. Either that, or "Hustler" should. In the meantime, next up is Evan Schoonfeld in New Jersey. He writes, "This is my first semester at college and I hate it. It was my last-choice school, and now I see why: The teachers are idiots, the sports teams lose all the time and the dorm rooms smell like the inside of Jeremy Shockey's pants. What can I do to make this place bearable?"

JEFF: This is simple. Go out and get drunk every night.

RACHEL: So we're going to assume Evan is a very old college freshman when we give him this advice. Like a 22-year-old college freshman.

JEFF: Right. Sure. And if he is, then he's probably already spent some time drinking, so he knows how. This is good advice. I've been to some pretty bad towns, and there's always a way to make it fun.

RACHEL: What's the worst minor-league town you had to spend time in?

JEFF: Hickory, North Carolina. But we made it fun. We had a couple parties at the hotel, and invited some people from outside Hickory. We made the place fun against its will.

RACHEL: So I'm thinking there's a hotel in Hickory that no longer accepts baseball players staying there?

Jeff Francoeur
Francoeur's been a hit, both with his bat and his glove.

JEFF: This is entirely possible.

RACHEL: Excellent. Evan, I hope you're of age. If you're not, I don't want to know about it. I also don't want to know why you know what Jeremy Shockey's pants smell like. Remember, there's something called "over-sharing." OK, let's move on to Glenn from Houston. He writes, "I recently got a pair of Shaquille O'Neal shoes at a charity auction and want to wear them around for just one day. I tried stuffing extra socks in the toes to make them fit, but my feet still slid around too much. Any suggestions?"

JEFF: What is Shaq's shoe size?

RACHEL: I believe he's either a 21 or a 22.

JEFF: I'm a 12. Wow. That's 10 whole inches. That's a lot of socks you have to stuff in there; or maybe if he has extra money left from the auction, he can stuff them with hundred-dollar bills.

RACHEL: I just showed John Smoltz this question, and he said the guy should wear his own shoes inside Shaq's shoes.

JEFF: That's good. See, always go with the veteran.

RACHEL: Well, before I move on from the rookie, tell me this: What's the best piece of advice you could give someone?

JEFF: Well, I just learned to iron. I used to just throw the clothes on the iron.

RACHEL: And shockingly, that doesn't work?

JEFF: No. I mean, I used to just throw my clothes on the board and run the iron over it. I didn't even let it get hot. So I guess my best piece of advice is, "When ironing, plug in the iron."

RACHEL: Genius.

JEFF: No question about it.

Got an issue or a question, or otherwise need to be "Ill-Advised" in the future? Send it to Rachel Nichols right here.