Saturday, September 24, 2011

14 comments Out of Gimmicks For His Columns, Bill Simmons Creates a New One

I used to really enjoy Bill Simmons' Friday NFL column. I would print it out and read it while I ate lunch. It was very sad. There are times I still do enjoy reading Bill's writing and his Friday NFL column (though most of the time I scan them), but then there are times his propensity of using gimmicks in his writing (corollaries, excessive amounts of lists, excessive references to pop culture) tend to cover up for a somewhat poorly written column. That might be the case for last week's NFL column.

There's an old story about songwriting that Don Henley told to a reporter, and of course I can't remember where I heard it so I don't even know if it is true. Henley was asked when is having trouble finishing off a line of a verse or just didn't know how to end a line of a verse and not have it sound awkward, what he did. Henley responded (possibly in jest) that he just adds the word "baby" or some variation of that word to the line so it would fit in with the song structure. I feel like Bill sometimes has a similar technique where he throws in a pop culture reference if he doesn't know how to explain something or to end a sequence of sentences that may not be his best writing.

Anyway, Bill uses the gimmick of buying or selling shares of NFL teams after the Week 1 of the season in his NFL preview. Sadly, he admits this is a gimmick, but claims it becomes addictive. I tend to disagree.

Recently in the Grantland offices, we developed a nasty conversational habit of discussing everything like stocks. As in, "I'm in on the new security guard, I'm buying 500 shares of him" or "I can't believe how much I enjoy Diet Dr Pepper, I'm selling my Diet Coke shares."

This is really the same thing many sports shows, including an ESPN show or two, do as a gimmick on their show. They do a "buy" or "sell" segment. This gimmick doesn’t overly creative is my point.

It's a stupid, indefensible, annoying and strangely addictive gimmick.

If three of the four words that describe the gimmick are negative, you may not want to include this as the basis for a column.

Things went too far when the buying/selling routine started affecting my approach to football gambling —

Because we wouldn’t want this made-up gimmick to affect Bill’s approach to taking guesses on sporting event outcomes while gambling. Some things should stay sacred.

A good example: the Lions of Detroit.

Or as other, lesser-informed sports fans may call them, “the Detroit Lions.”

When they pummeled my Patriots in Week 3 of the preseason — with noticeable/likable/undeniable swagger, by the way — I amended that feeling to, "I'm still going against them, but if they handle their business in Tampa Bay in Week 1, I'll happily sell my Bucs shares and grab some Detroit shares."

Yes, but only do this if Detroit looks good. You don’t want to sell these fake shares too soon you know...because there are no ramifications from doing so because there isn’t a price that goes along with each share. I'm just pointing this out. If Bill wants to run with the "buy or sell" gimmick like teams are shares of stock, he should add a stock price of some sort into the equation.

Well, they handled their business in Week 1. The most intriguing part: The Lions didn't even play well.

What makes this sentence more intriguing is the use of italics!

“Mom made pumpkin pie for dessert yesterday. The most intriguing part: She didn’t even use canned pumpkin.”

“I got a haircut yesterday and it looked good. One further note: It was the first time I had gone to this barbershop.”

Everyone can play this game at home. So feel free. Just remember: It’s easier than it looks.

In the second quarter, they swung momentum by picking off a Josh Freeman bomb, then going for it on fourth-and-2 at Tampa's 36 and getting a Calvin Johnson touchdown catch out of it.

Fortune does favor the bold. Or so Gregg Easterbrook tells us.

You know what really swayed me? In garbage time, one of Detroit's offensive lineman committed an unnecessary roughness penalty that stopped the clock and eventually gave Tampa just enough time to consider a Hail Mary sequence that even the great Jaaaaaaaaaaash Freeman!!!!! couldn't pull off.

The odds of what swayed Bill into finally believing in the Lions as having anything to do with the actual playing of football on the field is approximately 0.000117%.

On the sideline, a furious Jim Schwartz looked like Christian Bale ready to freak out on a key grip. It ruined the win for him. That's what want from my party-crashing playoff teams — don't break your arms patting each other on the back, don't be satisfied, win ugly if you don't have it, always play aggressively.

See what I was talking about earlier? Bill has a semi-weak point here, so he throws in a pop culture reference. I’m not sure if he realizes even he does this.

What swayed Bill was Jim Schwartz’s reaction to a penalty that stopped the clock and gave the Bucs a chance at a Hail Mary? Why would this be impressive of a coach to freak out? This isn’t a penalty committed in a blowout game that shows the Lions commitment to winning, this was a penalty committed which gave the Bucs a chance to win or tie the game. It ruined the win for Schwartz because it directly impacted the chances for a win against the Bucs. The game wasn’t over at this point, so it wasn’t an inconsequential penalty Schwartz was freaking out over.

This is what impressed Bill Simmons though. Not the performance of the Lions team, but their coach’s reaction to a penalty that stopped the clock at the end of the game.

Now, Bill makes his picks for Week 2 of the NFL and it isn’t fair to criticize his picks at the end of the column for inaccuracy, but I will mock him for his cockiness in making the picks and comments regarding individual players and teams before making his picks.

Even if Freeman got banged up in last week's loss, the Lions had the ball for more than 36 minutes, Tampa's front seven barely touched Matty Ice Pack, and LeGarrette Blount moved into pole position for 2011's Alvin Harper Memorial "Guy Who Definitely Went 12 Bucks Too High In Every Fantasy Auction" award.

Blount scored for two touchdowns in the next game against the Vikings. I thought this was important to add.

Remember when Miami ran that awful fade pass on fourth-and-goal to Brian Hartline in Monday's Pats-Dolphins game, the classic "trying to get too cute" football play that seemingly works about 12.77 percent of the time because four things can go wrong1 and only one thing can go right? And remember how the Football Gods paid them back for their idiocy with Welker's 99-yard touchdown on the next play?

If you work for ESPN is it in your contract you have to talk about the Football Gods?

PITTSBURGH: Every September, a contender gets destroyed in Week 1 and we try to figure out what it means. The consensus? Let's not get carried away with Week 1, remember when the 2003 Bills crushed New England 31-0, then the Pats ended up winning the Super Bowl and Buffalo finished 6-10? Well, there have been nine decisive Week 1 "Let's Not Get Carried Away" beatings since then.

Seven of nine times, the "contender" that got whupped in Week 1 made everyone say, "Don't worry, it's only Week 1!" and eventually missed the playoffs anyway.

The Steelers went on to shutout the Seahawks and are in a division with the Browns (which is a team Bill said wasn’t very good in this very column) and the Bengals. I think in this situation it is too early to count the Steelers out.

After that Ravens pounding, I thought about Pittsburgh's offseason turmoil (extensive), the Super Bowl Loser Curse2 and their possibly aging defense (the oldest in the league), then took one of those "Todd Palin hearing the Glen Rice story for the first time" gulps.

At least it is a somewhat relevant pop culture reference, even if it is a bit weak and forced.

ATLANTA: now the Falcons follow a Week 1 no-show by hosting Vick's Eagles on Monday Sunday night without their two best defensive tackles. Yikes. Their only silver lining: Couldn't 9-7 grab an NFC playoff spot this season?

It is the tri-annual “whatever conference Bill’s favorite team is in is the strongest conference in his opinion” comment. Maybe it is true, that 9-7 could grab an NFL playoff spot, but I think my point holds true as well. Bill always likes to knock the conference his favorite team doesn't play in.

And third, anyone who caught the Niners-Seahawks stinker or watched Cam Newton shred Arizona's secondary can tell you, without hesitation, that the NFC West will be keeping its streak alive of being the "Hung" of NFL divisions in 2011.

(Bill Simmons thinking) “I haven’t made a pop culture reference in nearly two paragraphs. Let me throw one in real quickly. I’m a genius for thinking of this one.” (glances at self in the mirror and smiles at his reflection…then begins typing)

He's the kind of guy who watched Steve Kerr build a team that came within a couple of breaks of making the 2010 Finals, then offered Kerr a pay cut. His fans hate him; hell, his own players hate him. When I made a few Sarver/Gilbert tweets yesterday, Steve Nash retweeted one of the anti-Sarver tweets.

I was going to bring this up myself, but there was one little problem. This is something I did not know. I guess I would have known this if I paid attention to Bill’s tweets, but there is one little problem with this. I don’t follow Bill Simmons on Twitter. When I tried to follow Bill yesterday, my computer froze.

At this point, Bill’s use of italics for emphasis is becoming a running joke for me much like many other people (including myself) make fun of the “CSI:Miami” opening one-liners by David Caruso.

"It's going to be hard to be voted prom queen...without a face."

(Ok, that wasn't from "CSI:Miami," but is from a parody of the show...which isn't every episode of the show a parody at this point?)

REDSKINS (-4) over Cardinals
Packers (-10) over PANTHERS

But because they played each other, it seems like bettors mistakenly came away thinking, "Arizona might be back with Kolb!" and "Carolina's offense is gonna be exciting this year with Cam Newton and Steve Smith!" which is why both of their Week 2 lines landed three points too low. You'll see.

Bill Simmons, the expert gambler, says we’d see? Did we? We did not see. The Redskins beat the Cards by 1 point and the Packers beat the Panthers by 7 points. Nothing team covered the spread. I hate to make fun of Bill’s picks because we all get picks wrong, but it is so easy to do when he is so smug about making his picks.

Bengals (+3.5) over BRONCOS
Was anyone else stunned by Denver fans lustily booing Kyle Orton on Monday night? What happened to the mellow Denver fans we knew and loved?

I was not surprised at all and really anyone who somewhat follows the media and the Broncos football team wasn’t either. Orton didn’t look good and it has been drilled in the head of the fans that Tebow is the savior of the team this year. The backup quarterback, or the third string quarterback in this case, is always the most popular guy in the room when an average starting quarterback starts to struggle. Orton played average and Tim Tebow has a lot of support among fans. Hence, the chant for Tebow began.

Eagles (+2.5) over FALCONS
I somehow ended up with Michael Vick as my quarterback in both fantasy leagues and it's infinitely more exciting than I expected. Every play feels like it might go for 15 points. The experience reminds me of a famous Hollywood story that HAS to be an urban legend;

This is Bill’s weekly reminder that he lives in Hollywood, used to write for Jimmy Kimmel, knows celebrities and is privy to confidential information about celebrities. This is what happens when Bill gets to sit at the table with who he perceives to be the cool kids at school, we get not-so-covert reminders that he mingles with a Hollywood crowd. Did you know Michael Rappaport lives on Bill’s street? You didn’t? Well, let him tell you a quick story about that!

The actor asked if Kilborn had ever "had the Theron," meaning Charlize Theron. Kilborn said no. That's when the actor smirked, leaned in and said, "Kilby … you have GOT to try the Theron."

Here's the point: It takes an urban legend to describe how I feel about having Michael Vick on both fantasy teams. Kilby … you have GOT to try the Vick.

I have read this story several times and it feels incredibly shoe-horned into this column as a reminder of what I described above. Doesn’t it feel like Bill brings this up just to relay an “insider” Hollywood story to his audience? His Vick experience only feels very loosely related to the story he is telling about Charlize Theron.

I was going to cover this week's Friday picks column, but it was a mailbag, and I can't subject myself to the circle jerk that is Bill Simmons and his readers interacting through email. I couldn't help but notice he mentioned Carolina was good on offense, which seems to be a direct contradiction from his opinion in Week 2's picks column. I also noticed he completely ignored his comments about the Steelers from his Week 2 column and didn't acknowledge the defense pitched a shutout in Week 2.


JimA said...

I agree that Simmons is an arrogant asshole. I hope Charlize Theron sues his ass.

Bengoodfella said...

JimA, I was thinking about that too. I don't think there is anyone way to sue Bill, but it is somewhat disrespectful, even from a person who doesn't know Theron, to call her a whore like that. It doesn't really matter, but it was pretty arrogant...or par for the course.

504patrick said...

How is it legal for you to post the entirety of his column on your blog? Seems at least bad netiquette and at worst theft.

Bengoodfella said...

I didn't post the entirety of his column on the blog. I posted portions of the column and I provided a link to where you can go to read the entirety of the column. Very similar to how you can quote from a book as long as you cite it.

I'm not sure the legality of it, but I'm pretty sure quoting portions of what a person says and providing a link to the site is better etiquette than discussing an article without providing a link for the reader to make up his or her own mind about what you are saying. I personally would prefer if people quote me rather than just make up shit I wrote.

conshy matt said...

504patrick must be a (failing) law student. i'm no lawyer, but if there is anything illegal about what you do on this site then the entire internet is about to be sued. maybe 504patrick can be the prosecutor in the case of "The People of the World vs. The Internet".

Bengoodfella said...

Matt, I had thought about it too a while back, but thought that most likely because YouTube videos are embedded on sites and you can quote someone in an actual written work as long as you cite them, then it was fine. I still feel that way.

I'm clearly not the first to do this. I know NBCSports does it on their baseball page, so a class action suit would have to name them at least.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone else here ever wonder if Mrs. Simmons, in an honest moment, thinks to herself "Jesus I'm married to one of the biggest man-child pigs on the face of the Earth?"

Anonymous said...

Simmons does have a daughter right?

If karma exists when she's in college all the fraternities are going to be saying to each other "Have you tried the Simmons? You have GOT to try the Simmons....That is some first class ass!"

What a fucking pig.

Bengoodfella said...

Anon, I think she loves Bill and he makes a shit-ton of money so she overlooks any egotistical behavior he may possess. Plus, he is probably away from home a lot so that makes it easier.

Gosh, Bill's daughter is so young I feel terrible laughing at that joke. I had to though. Karma is a bitch and he has a daughter so your scenario could play out. I'm not burning bras or anything, but Bill comes off as a pig at times. I think the conclusion to this column is one of those times.

Anonymous said...

I guess when you are out of ideas for a good blog post, you just find a column that people actually enjoy reading and then criticize it?

Sweet blog you have here. Littered with typos by the way. Well done.

Bengoodfella said...

Actually all I do is criticize articles people enjoy reading. I've found many times people don't enjoy reading some of Simmons stuff, so then I write about it. Go figure I post something negative about Bill Simmons and I get criticized. There's a shocker. A certain portion of his dedicated fans are more like a cult.

Not sure there are typos. There's terrible grammar and poorly constructed sentences though. This is explained under the "Why We're Here" portion. Otherwise, I'm pretty sure everything is spelled correctly and I would think 99.5% of it doesn't contain typographical errors. If so, I'll fire my editor.

Thanks for reading and I'm not being snide.

Billy Martin said...

Isn't breaking down a column or comments by a sports personality while interjecting your thoughts a gimmick made famous by

Bengoodfella said...

Billy, I don't know if I would consider it a gimmick necessarily. It is a way of dissecting a column while giving your thoughts. If you know of another way of doing it, please tell me. But FJMorgan did it originally, yes. Not sure they are the only/first ones to do it. For the purposes of what I write here it isn't less of a gimmick than you leaving me a comment about what you think about what I wrote.

I am also sorry I mocked what I would presume to be your favorite writer, Bill Simmons. The most negative comments I receive are when I cover his stuff. What a rabid fan base he has.

Matthew Cleary said...

The Charlize Theron comment is not only libelous and unfunny and shoehorned in, but it also makes it seem that Simmons wants to have sex with Michael Vick.

Although Simmons made up for it with the Todd Palin/Glen Rice joke. That was pretty awesome. Sarah Palin sucks.