Friday, November 27, 2009

12 comments Bill Simmons Thanks Us With A Mailbag

I have set up a Yahoo College Bowl Pick 'Em league for the upcoming bowl season. Everyone who wants to should feel free to sign up. The group ID is "3711" and the password is "jamarcus." I don't think there is a limit on how many can sign up.

As I have described many times before, I have a love/hate relationship with Bill Simmons. I bought his new book and I have generally enjoyed it, but at the same time many of his comments and other things he does/says/thinks annoys the heck out of me. A great example of this is that I was cruising through his book actually enjoying some of his "what-if" scenarios (which is surprising in itself) when I ran into his question of "What If the Hawks Had Taken Chris Paul?" I agree, the Hawks should have taken Paul, but in his criticism of the Hawks choosing Marvin Williams he said (paraphrasing), "When Marvin Williams played for UNC, he didn't start for them. I took that as a bad sign."

I am not arguing with the conclusion Bill came to that Paul should have been drafted by the Hawks, but I am arguing with this reasoning. Marvin Williams played one year in college with a North Carolina Tar Heels team that won the National Championship. It was a loaded team. Check out the roster. Marvin Williams did not start because he was a bad basketball player or because he wasn't worthy of starting, but he was the 6th man for that team because he was stuck behind Jawad Williams, a senior, at the Power Forward position. There were upperclassmen blocking him at every starting position and anyone who knows one of the traditions in college basketball (and especially UNC) knows it is not often a skilled upperclassman will be benched for a freshmen (for a variety of reasons that are basketball related and non-basketball related. For another example, super-freshmen Ed Davis did not start over Deon Thompson last year). It seemed to work out well for UNC that year because they won the National Championship. Bill seemed to miss this idea a little bit in his explanation of why Marvin Williams was a bad pick at #2, which he was.

Enough rambling, let's get on to Bill's mailbag. Peter King could learn a little bit from Bill Simmons on how much mail to put in a mailbag.

I just wanted to thank everyone who came out for my book signings in Washington, Philly, New York, Boston, San Diego, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Anaheim, Seattle, Portland, Denver, Chicago and Phoenix. Yes, I have regained some feeling in my right thumb. Yes, I would do it again. Everyone could not have been nicer. In their honor, I'm breaking out a special holiday mailbag. As always, these are actual e-mails from actual readers.

As was stated previously by Jeremy Conlin in the comments here, Bill Simmons seems to actually appreciate and enjoy his fans. He doesn't seem like he is too good for them or talk down to them while up high on his pedestal (ok maybe Bill has done this sometimes), like maybe a Peter King would do. That's my touchy-feeling nice Bill Simmons comment for the day.

What if LeBron announces he will pick his 2010-11 team live on ABC on a certain date for a show called "LeBron's Choice?" What type of crazy ratings would that get?-- Drew, Columbus, Ohio

SG: "LeBron's Choice" sounds too much like a Lifetime movie -- like, he became the first NBA player to make himself pregnant and now he can't decide whether to give up the baby for adoption or not.

Drew, your idea sucks. Bill Simmons will now improve upon your idea changing the name and proclaiming his new name change for this event is better.

If people were willing to pay $44.99 for a UFC 106 card headlined by Jenna Jameson's washed-up husband fighting a guy who hadn't won in two years, I'm pretty sure they'll pony up $44.99 for "Decision 2010: LeBron's Verdict."

Because "Decision 2010: LeBron's Verdict" doesn't sound like a bad "Daily Show" feature or a Nancy Grace special or anything. I think this is a draw, while "LeBron's Choice" does sound like a bad television movie, Bill's title that he thinks is better "Decision 2010: LeBron's Verdict" sounds like a bad special featuring attorneys.

Q: What is the "30 for 30" documentary you wish was made that wasn't?-- Tyler, Seattle

SG: Andre the Giant. Hands down. It never got past the discussion stage because the WWE owns the key footage and would have wanted to produce it; we would have wanted an elite filmmaker.

Not to quibble, but have all the "30 for 30" documentaries been by "elite" filmmakers so far? They have been fairly accomplished filmmakers, except for Kirk Fraser, the guy behind the Len Bias documentary, which was essentially a rehashing of an already existing documentary. Fraser had executively produced the first documentary and he directed the "30 for 30" episode. I don't know if I would call him elite. But I don't think they have all been elite so far. Bill is using the word "elite" a little too loosely here.

So that's No. 1 for me. My runners-up: Tim Richmond, the Clippers, the Artest melee and how Rocky Balboa ended the Cold War.

I am not a big NASCAR fan at all, but a Tim Richmond documentary would have been fantastic. He was a riveting person and it would have been a riveting documentary. Check out his wikipedia biography and tell me I am wrong, if you dare. I hate NASCAR but would have watched this documentary.

Oh, and if you think Bill was kidding about the Rocky Balboa thing...sadly, he wasn't.

(Note on the Rocky idea: I really did want to do that one. My plan was to shoot it like a real documentary -- like it actually happened -- and interview the "Rocky IV" actors today but in character, then stage some fake news footage from the time, then have current media people talking about it like everything was real: Rocky climbing the mountain in snow boots, the Drago-Balboa fight, Apollo dying, everything.

So in the middle of real documentaries by "elite" filmmakers about real life events covered from a different angle, Bill Simmons wanted to include a fake documentary about one of his favorite movies...and he wanted to do this by pretending this fake event was a real event and create a documentary about the fake event? This would have fit into the "30 for 30" format how again?

Also, nobody but me liked the idea. That was another problem. My question is this: Would you have turned the channel if "Burning Hearts: How Rocky Ended The Cold War" was on? No way. I refuse to believe it.)

There is a reason no one else liked the idea. It stinks. Maybe someone would have watched this documentary, but how are we supposed to take "30 for 30" seriously at all if there is a documentary about a fake sporting event included? I wonder if Bill thinks this is another idea the "old and non-relevant" documentaries HBO put out completely overlooked...doing a fake documentary on a 23 year old movie.

Somehow I can't believe Bill was serious about doing this. Why am I shocked by this?

Q: Are you not completely shocked after finding out that Andre Agassi's amazing mohawk mullet after all these years was a wig? Forget that he was doing a year of meth with an assistant named "Slim." The fact that one of my all-time favorite sports hairstyles was synthetically made is the most unbelievable revelation from his or any book, right?-- Ben B., Charlottesville, Va.

Somewhere in 1989 a distraught young Bengoodfella is clutching his Andre Agassi "Hit the Ball As Loud As You Can Shirt" and wondering how Agassi's hair can't be real.

Agassi's revelations made me like him compared to Pete Sampras even more. I was always Team Agassi because I didn't like Sampras and thought he came off as fake. While Agassi was doing crystal meth with an assistant named "Slim," I know Pete Sampras was doing something equally as worse. He had to be, he can't be as boring as he seems. I just know Pete Sampras was doing lines of coke off a hooker's stomach, he just needs to write about it.

SG: I couldn't agree more. I was flabbergasted. If there were a Hall of Fame for memorable sports hairdos and facial hair decisions, my first-ballot inductions would be Agassi's mohawk mullet, Barry Melrose's mullet, Barry Sanders' helmet Afro, Rollie Fingers' mustache, Dr. J's ABA Afro, Baron Davis' beard, Al Hrabosky's Fu Manchu, Ray Bourque's playoff beard, Jake Sikma's blonde permafro, Shawn Michaels' extended uber-mullet, everything that was happening with Larry Bird's face and hair in 1986, and two other slam dunks I know I forgot (and I know you'll remind me).

I hope everyone likes how Bill Simmons just threw in "...and two other slam dunks I know I forgot" just in case there were other immortal hair styles he didn't know of or remember but he wanted to make sure everyone knew that HE KNEW what they are, but he just forgot. It's not that Bill doesn't have knowledge of these hairdos or facial hair decisions, it's just that he "forgot" two of them and can't seem to remember them right now. As soon as a reader chimes in with a couple more Bill will "remember" the other two like he had known them all along.

Bill always has knowledge of everything, sometimes he just needs someone to remind him how much he actually's not that he doesn't know some things, he just needs to be reminded that he remembers.

Q: Bill Belichick just got outcoached by an unblinking mannequin. Excuse me while I go vomit "Exorcist"-style and gouge my eyes out with a blowtorch. I will sell my soul for this never to happen again.-- Alex, Warwick, R.I.'s kind of nice to see Alex from Warwick, Rhode Island try to write a sentence exactly like Bill Simmons does. Just to guarantee Alex writes in here and calls me a jackass, I am going to keep ripping him a little here. This is exactly why I call some of Bill's fans "Simmons Clones" because this is exactly like a sentence Bill Simmons would write. It has absolutely no original thoughts. It's just a game of "Bill Simmons Mad Libs" where you state what happened and then threaten to do things to yourself while referencing pop culture.

Example: Peyton Manning has beaten Tom Brady twice in a row. I feel like the Sterling Cooper employees did on "Mad Men" after the British guy got run over by the lawnmower more amazed at what is happening while wiping blood off me. Excuse me while I go floss with razor blades. This would never have happened if Bill Belichick was still alive.

SG: Reading that e-mail doubled as the only time I cracked a smile for six hours after the Pats-Colts game. And it lasted only 0.43 seconds.

It's the journalistic equivalent of a tribute band. Of course Bill liked it.

SG: I never wanted to do a book on tape because the footnotes were such a big part of the book. Just couldn't imagine how they would translate to tape. Then a writer interviewed me for Entertainment Weekly and gave me the greatest idea ever:

I don't know if everyone just read that sentence but Bill wants us to know that he got interviewed by Entertainment Weekly. He's a pretty big deal. People know him.

Q: Today is Saturday, aka College Football Day. I am pretty sure I have heard the word "arguably" said at least 15 times on the studio show I am watching. By them saying "Florida is ARGUABLY the best team in college football," are they actually making an argument?-- Josh, Wilmington, Del.

SG: Either you think Florida is the best team in college football or you don't. By declaring the Gators are "arguably" the best, all you're really saying is that someone could argue they are the best -- which makes no sense, because anyone could argue anything and that doesn't have to mean it's true...So "arguably" is a word that means nothing other than, "I don't really believe this, but I'm throwing it out anyway."

I can see Bill's problem with the word "arguably," but I think he has what it means completely wrong. When someone writes/says "arguably" that person is saying he/she believes something to be true, but he/she can understand that others may not hold the same opinion. It isn't a sign that someone doesn't really believe what he/she says, it's a sign that person knows the opinion may not be widely held.

For example, I would say, "I arguably think that Aaron Rodgers is a better quarterback right now than Brett Favre," because I know it is an arguable statement because my belief is not widely held. This is the entire purpose of saying "arguably" though the phrase is overused at this point in time.

Q: Did Marv really fight with Fiddy's posse at Kimmel's show? I never know what to believe on the Internet these days. -- Katie B., Dallas

SG: Me, neither. Although I'm fired up that it led to multiple readers sending me an e-mail with subject headings like, "50 Cent/Marv Albert brawl?" Had it really happened, we definitely should have thrown the grainy security camera footage into the "2012" trailer. Sadly, it did not happen. My old boss Jimmy Kimmel explains:

Bill's old boss Jimmy Kimmel? I didn't know that Bill Simmons used to work for a mediocre late night show. He hasn't mentioned this in at least two weeks so I had completely forgotten.

"The original L.A. Times story in no way suggests that there was any interaction between Marv and 50 Cent or Marv and anyone. I don't know where that came from. I am starting to fear that some Web site journalists don't always check facts. Sorry to ruin the fun. In the meantime, I am now carrying a gun just to be safe."

Oh that Jimmy Kimmel, what a funny guy. I think if I had to choose between whether he or Adam Carrolla were funnier, I would throw myself off a bridge.

(Now someone is going to comment that I just threatened to hurt myself like Bill Simmons does and I am hypocrite. Because we should all just assume Bill Simmons is the first and only person ever who used the "I am going to hurt myself in anger" joke, which clearly he isn't.)

Q: How could you forget Joakim Noah in your "Sports Hate" column? How? I thought we had something special! I don't think I know you anymore. -- Justin, Minneapolis

There is one idea the entire sports universe can get behind and that idea is that Joakim Noah is a freaking asshole that no one in their right mind should ever like. This one idea binds us all together. Men, women, children and even potentially extra-terrestrials hate Joakim Noah. I am not being hyperbolic, I know University of Florida fans who don't like him that much. No one likes Joakim Noah.

Q: This one is a little serious, but please don't mistake the note for being preachy or abrasive. We've known Donald Sterling to be a shady character for some time, but those recent allegations and subsequent settlements are rather tough to stomach. Housing discrimination is a particularly nasty form of racism, don't you think? Seeing as your season-ticket money pads the man's wallet, do you plan to continue supporting the Clippers in light of their owner's legal settlement with the federal government? If so, where do you draw the line?-- Ben, Brooklyn

Let's get to Bill's explanation. Line by line.

SG: Good timing. I have been thinking about this a lot. You're right, he was revealed to be a relatively vile human being. And you're right, it feels weird to put money in his pocket. On the flip side, I get material from those Clipper games that helps my column,

Donald Sterling helps Bill make money by putting out good columns for ESPN. It is ok to make money off of a person who was found guilty of housing discrimination, it's just not ok to make money off housing discrimination. Hey, Bill's not discriminating he's just using the person who does the discriminating to make some money himself.

I don't think I would have as big of a problem if Bill had said he gets to make fun of Sterling in his columns as sort of a payback, but Bill framed the sentence like it's ok to put money in Sterling's pocket because it helps Bill out personally. Bill draws the line at the point where it doesn't help him write columns apparently.

I don't personally think Bill should sell his tickets because the owner of the Clippers is an asshole, but I think Bill should just say he doesn't want to sell the tickets and not try to explain.

and it's my only chance to see NBA basketball in quality seats on a regular basis.

He can't afford Lakers tickets. I can see that. So Bill's need to make money and see good NBA basketball is more important to him than knowing he puts money in the pocket of a person who had to settle a lawsuit for discrimination.

So here's my uneasy compromise: keep the seats, but don't forget to mention every once in awhile that the owner of the Clippers recently settled a $2.7 million housing discrimination

Because nothing is going to embarrass Donald Sterling more than an ESPN writer mentioning a couple times a year what a bad person he is. That will be what will teach Sterling a lesson, having a season ticket holder who Sterling is probably not aware of bad mouth him. I think Sterling would be more shocked if a season ticket holder didn't bad mouth him. This is Bill's payback, reminding everyone what a bad person Donald Sterling is.

(Just remind me to mention this every so often. I won't forget, but if I do, remind me.)

That's his payback, unless he forgets of course.

Q: I'll make it simple. Miguel Cabrera: Yes or no?-- Patrick, Weymouth, Mass.

SG: Yes. Yes. And yes. For three reasons ...

1. He's only 26, which makes the 0.26 blood-alcohol thing much more defensible to me. Look, I am ashamed of at least 50 things that I did in my mid-20s. You don't know any better in your mid-20s, only you kinda do, but not totally. You don't appreciate anything. You're supposed to start growing up, but you're not quite ready yet. You can keep acting like an ass and keep assuming that someone will always give you a second chance, whether it's with a job, a woman or whatever. If you're 29 and things like the 0.26 are still happening during the biggest weekend of your team's season? Yeah. That's a problem. I am willing to forgive the 25-26 range.

Bill is willing to forgive players who make mistakes in the 25-26 year old range? If anyone has read his latest book or read any of Bill's columns you would find it ironic it doesn't sound like he has forgiven Kobe Bryant for the sexual allegations against him in Colorado in 2003.

Kobe was 24 years old at the time.

Q: With the benefit of a little hindsight, how do you think the top-10 of the 2009 NBA draft would look if it went down today?-- Michael McNamara, Jacksonville

Remember back in May and June when Bill Simmons said this NBA Draft was weak and there didn't seem to be many good players in the draft? I do. Now certainly the 2009 NBA Draft isn't the strongest of all-time but I don't think it is as weak as Bill Simmons claimed it was. There may not be a ton of star players that come out of the draft, but it's been stronger so far than Bill gave it credit for. Which is not shocking since he has only a passing interest in college basketball. We won't hear Bill say he was even 10% wrong about this draft though.'s Jonathan Givony was the only one I can remember last June even attempting the "Jennings has a chance to be awesome" case. My friend Hirschy was the only New Yorker I knew who thought the Knicks should have drafted him at No. 8.

I don't like to toot my own horn and I also realize it is really, really early in the NBA season, but here is what I said about Jennings on May 22 of this year.

At #6 I said the Timberwolves should choose Brandon Jennings:

This would be a good fit for a point guard and to me, Brandon Jennings fits in perfectly well at this spot. I have a feeling that either the Knicks or the Wolves are going to take DeRozan though. It is just a feeling I have. I think Jennings would be perfect to put together with Love and Jefferson, but I think the Wolves are going to look for a big time athletic scorer,

I was wrong about the T-Wolves looking for a big time athletic scorer, they were looking to draft two guys at the same position and ensure the franchise stays screwed up. Still, I thought Brandon Jennings should go #6 in the draft.

At #7 I had the Warriors taking Jennings and I said:

This makes sense to me. I don't know what else to say really. If Jennings is available he should be the pick for Nelson's offense. I would say Lawson but he is a reach at this point and really Jennings could be a special player.

It's not like I "called it" or anything, but I thought Jennings could be a special player and I still obviously think this. Believe it or not, I am not writing this to let everyone know I am right, but to show that not everyone had Jennings going past the #8 pick in the NBA Draft. There were some people who Bill is not aware of in the world, shocking this could happen, who would have had Jennings go to New York at #8.

Everyone else (like me) fell into the whole "bad attitude, immature, couldn't get big minutes in Italy, can't shoot, hit-or-miss pick" trap with Jennings.

That is not true. I am not the only one who believed in Brandon Jennings. Because Bill fell into this trap he just assumes that everyone else did as well, which is not true. I had questions about Jennings because he didn't exactly light up Europe, but I had seen him play a little bit when he was in high school and knew he had talent. Bill is just lumping everyone else in with himself regarding Jennings and he only does this because he assumes because he was wrong other people were as well...which isn't necessarily true. So no, everyone didn't fall into that trap Bill is describing here. Due to the fact Bill sees himself as an NBA expert (which to an extent he is), I think he believes others make mistakes like this if he does.

Can you blame us? What signs were there that this kid had a chance to be great other than the fact that he was the best high schooler a year earlier?

Other than the fact he was the best high school player a year earlier, I guess there were no other signs he could be a good NBA player.

He seemed like a total head case.

He did seem like a total head case playing basketball in Europe. If we put most 18 year olds in Europe to play professional basketball then they would seem like head cases also. Jeremy Tyler is currently falling apart overseas, that's what can happen when you put teenagers overseas to play professional basketball.

Jennings is a lefty Chris Paul, only if Paul could shoot 20-footers and threes with a hand in his face. More importantly, his teammates love him. And he has a wonderful sense of The Moment already. I can't say enough about him. He's a superstar in training. He's the first Buck in 25 years who could actually sell tickets and jerseys there. Amazing. He will save basketball in Milwaukee, as long as this early start doesn't go to his head. And it might.

Ok, simmer down now. I don't want to overreact too much to his hot start. He looks like he will be good, but it is still very, very early in the NBA season.

so let's pay tribute for once to someone who absolutely crushed a decision: Bucks GM John Hammond. It's one of the best draft picks ever. A franchise-alterer.

I wonder who Bill Simmons would have picked if he had been named the Bucks GM like he wanted to be?

Q: So I thought that as an avid "Rocky IV" fan, you would appreciate this. I went to the doctor the other day to get my flu shot. I asked the nurse if I could blast "Hearts on Fire" on my iPhone and look up to the left with a stoic look on my face as she administered the shot into my arm. She didn't get the reference, and had a puzzled look on her face, but all my friends have gotten a good chuckle out of the story. Your thoughts?-- Josh, Chicago

Josh, I am sure all your co-workers at Applebee's are still going to be enjoying that story five years from now.

Q: After listening to the Mike and the Mad Dog "reunion" show, my friend and I started talking about how we feel like kids of divorced parents at this point (with Mike and Dog as the parents). I thought I would share with you the top five moments of my short life thus far:

1. Losing my virginity.
2. Playing in the U.S. (golf) Amateur.
3. Making a game-winning shot in a basketball game when I was 10.
4. Getting a "That's a good job there, Jason" from Dog the only time I called into the show as a cracked-voice 17-year-old.
5. Seeing Wake Forest play in the Orange Bowl.

That's it, that's the list.-- Jason, Winston-Salem

Bill's readers are so wild and crazy! I hope he enjoyed watching Wake Forest in the Orange Bowl because it doesn't look like it is going to happen again anytime soon.

SG: Yup, these are my readers.

And Bill is bragging about this.


Fred Trigger said...

Bill Simmons doesnt really bother me, but he can kind of be a sensitive bitch at times.

After he got ripped on WEEI, he called into the rival sports station for some sympathy. Even the host ripped him, quote: "Yeah, thats what they do, get over it. Your only hurting yourself doing things this way, instead of taking the high road." Of course this is the same host that said he WOULDNT trade Clay Buchholz for Albert Pujols, but still, it was funny hearing Simmons looking for some love and getting none of it.

Fred Trigger said...


Warwick, RI sucks.

Martin said...

Unrelated football question. Last night the Giants had a 2nd and 4, but couldn't get the play right, so called a time out early in the second quarter. You see this all the time, and I've begun to wonder, why not jsut take the delay of game? It's only 5 yards, but saves a precious timeout. I can understand a third and 2 from the 4yard line, you want to have the right play for the touchdown, or when shoved up against your own end zone. 1st and 10 from your own 35 though, it seems to me that 1st and 15 is a better choice then using a timeout. I see this often enough to come bite teams in teh arse at the end of games to wonder why they still call these timeouts because they aren't going to get the play run, at least as often as they do.

Bengoodfella said...

I have heard and read about Bill being sensitive at times also. I remember reading on Twitter about his battle with WEEI, though I didn't hear the hosts basically tell Bill he just needed to get over it and deal with life. When you are as popular as Bill, it may be hard, but you have to ignore those who rip you.

I know one person from Rhode Island and she seems to really enjoy it. She is not from Warwick though.

Martin, that's a great question. I think about that sometimes when there is a borderline replayable call and the coach is standing on the sidelines with the flag not wanting to burn a timeout to get a crucial play overturned, but they will call a timeout to save 5 yards. That is good out of the box thinking by you because a 2nd and 9 isn't that bad. It's not ideal of course, but neither is taking a timeout to get the play right.

I think teams take the timeout because it looks worse to take a penalty and the perception is that taking a penalty is worse than using a timeout to get the play right.

Anonymous said...

So Miguel Cabrera gets a pass for being "only" 26 and having a BAC of .26, but argues that an 18 year old being classified as a "head case" should not have been drafted by the Knicks?

Also, what world do people live in that "you don't know any better in your mid-20s, only you kinda do, but not totally."

Really? I'm 23 and I'd be willing to say that going out the night before an important game with members of the opposing team, drinking to the point of having a .26 BAC and then getting in a fight with your wife is completely unacceptable.

I also love the "but if you're 29 and..." right. Because at 26 you don't know better, but somehow between 26-29 you have this incredible awakening that you shouldn't be doing those types of things anymore.

I wonder if Marshawn Lynch used that in his court testimony. "Your honor, I know I hit that lady and I know I drove away, but I'm only 23! Now if I do something like this again when I'm 29, feel free to send me to prison."

Gene said...

Can anyone fill me in on the specifics of what WEEI ripped Bill about? I like to hear as much negative stuff about him as I can.

Gene said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bengoodfella said...

Anon, good parallel. I searched for a minute or two for a parallel and could only think of Kobe, but the Brandon Jennings situation would have been a better one.

Bill sees a huge difference in a person after the age of 26, apparently to the point he will forgive that person for getting very drunk and not making good decisions because that's what he said he did.

I guess he believes on his 26th birthday everything came into view for him and he realized what he needed to do with his life. I can understand that some people are not as mature as others, but really to just say you forgive someone under the age of 26 for a transgression, no matter how immature is a bit much. Cabrera should have known better than to do get drunk before the big game like that.

Gene, I have no idea what the brawl was about. Maybe someone else does. I just know Bill was calling WEEI out on Twitter for something. I hope someone else knows.

Fred Trigger said...

Gene, ask and you shall receive.

AJ said...


Thats all I got.

KentAllard said...

Things you do in your mid-20s don't count? That's great news, I can finally forgive myself for the "I killed a hooker" fiasco when I was 25.

Bengoodfella said...

Kent, what's interesting is that if I am not wrong A-Rod used steroids in his mid-20's. Does that mean Bill forgives him and won't hold that against him?