Thursday, April 5, 2012

6 comments Bill Simmons Is Now Whining about the Red Sox Before the MLB Season Even Begins

Bill Simmons experienced his most success (in terms of readers when liked him and didn't find him to be an egotistical maniac who only focuses on Boston sports, yet has has the gall to call himself "The Sports Guy") prior to the Red Sox winning a World Series title in 2004. Since that time he has tended to be an insufferable and has caused much consternation among fans of Boston sports due to this. Yet he still manages to have a dedicated fan base I call SimmonsClones. These are people who aspire to nothing in life other than to be just like Bill Simmons. They will be the ones writing negative comments about what I am about to post. Look for them and taste the tears they will cry about me ripping their hero. Their tears are delicious and taste like chocolate, by the way. And yes, there will be tears because Bill talks with Michael Schur, who actually knows what he is talking about when discussing the Red Sox, so Bill's comments tend to come off as silly.

Bill has no inclination to write anymore. This frustrates me. He wants to do podcasts and email famous people, then share those email exchanges he had with famous people with his readers to show us he knows famous people. DID YOU KNOW MICHAEL RAPAPORT LIVES ON BILL'S STREET? BILL KNOWS JIMMY KIMMEL AND LET HIM PROVE IT BY RELAYING SOMETHING HILARIOUSLY UNFUNNY THAT JIMMY KIMMEL SAID!

So Bill doesn't write very much anymore and when he does write about his favorite teams, he tends to whine and complain as if the his Boston teams have committed the terrible crime of not winning the championship every single year and because of this he is so tortured...then he inserts a pop culture reference in to describe how he feels. Now Bill is complaining about the Red Sox before the season even begins. Maybe not exactly complaining or whining, but he sees pending doom and is trying to talk himself into being excited for the Red Sox season. Rather than write a column, Bill wanted to remind his readers he does indeed know famous people and have an email exchange (though it is really weird if this was an email exchange because the exchanges are short, so I don't believe this was done over email) with Michael Schur. Michael Schur is Regis Philbin's son-in-law and co-creator of "Parks and Recreation," a really funny and great show. He also had a blog a long time ago...something to do with Firing Joe Morgan. Why he is participating in an email exchange with Bill Simmons, I'll never know. This makes me lose 5% respect for him, not that anyone cares.

When the Boston Globe's Chris Gasper wrote about a potential Bobby Valentine–Ben Cherington rift last weekend, it broke new ground even for Red Sox fans. Our new coach and GM quarreling before our first regular-season game?

A writer wrote one column about controversy among the Red Sox ranks. Let's overreact and whine about the Red Sox season that hasn't even occurred yet with each other over 10,000 words.

They couldn't have held off until Patriots' Day? Die-hard Sox fans Michael Schur and Bill Simmons decided to ease the pain by trading e-mails about the 2012 season.

The only way Bill Simmons can be classified as a "diehard" Red Sox fan is because when he sees the Red Sox hopes for making the playoffs are going to "die," he decides it will be "hard" to watch any of their games since he only writes about the Red Sox once a year, or possibly more, but only if they are successful and make the playoffs. Other than that, I find it hard to believe he is a diehard fan.

Simmons: Let's recap everything that happened since Game 161 in late September. The first body blow: We totally choked away Game 162 (and a playoff spot), completed the biggest September collapse in baseball history, turned Robert Andino into the modern-day Bucky Bleeping Dent, spawned bitter pieces from both you and me and made me ask myself things like, "Why does it feel like we won that last World Series 40 years ago?"


The Red Sox didn't make the playoffs and are the first major league team to have ever blown a large lead in September as long as you don't count the other major league teams that have done this but Bill doesn't count these teams because he believes everything does and should revolve around the Red Sox.

Simmons: You can't back out now! You promised! Second, stories/rumors/e-mails/message board posts quickly started circulating that there was more clubhouse dissension than anyone realized.

There is no more reliable source of information than emails/rumors/message boards!

And trust me, the team already felt very clubhouse dissensiony.

From the perspective of an outsider who lives in California and hasn't actually been in the Red Sox clubhouse this year...that Red Sox clubhouse feels very dissesiony.

Schur: Maybe I'm naive, but I didn't have any idea about the clubhouse stuff until it blew up after the season was over.

Oh really? Bill Simmons had knowledge of the clubhouse dissension, he just didn't mention it at the time because he forgot to mention it. But he knew of the dissension. He knew! He was going to bring it up prior to the dissension being made public, but he just didn't get a chance what with only writing one column a week and all. So AFTER the dissension is made public, Bill tells us he knew of the dissension beforehand.

Really? I remember watching other teams happily standing on the top step of the dugout, then seeing our guys grimly sitting next to each other, and thinking, All right, something feels wrong here.

What was "wrong" is the team wasn't pitching well and they were blowing the Wild Card lead by losing games. Bill may remember players looking grim, but he also didn't remember to bring this up at the time so I question whether he is being truthful. Though in Bill's defense, we all know if the Red Sox aren't World Series-bound he tends to ignore them completely...when he isn't busy saying baseball is dying simply because the Red Sox weren't competitive at the time. So it is possible Bill didn't get a chance to mention the Red Sox looked grim because he was too busy ignoring their existence.

The players could have also looked grim because the Red Sox team was playing poorly. That's highly possible.

Schur: You're like The Mentalist.

No, he's full of shit.

Schur: It definitely didn't look like a happy bunch of guys last September, but I attributed that to going 7-20.

How illogical to believe a team's mood depends on their performance on the field! This would never happen in Bill's opinion because a team that likes each other will always be successful. A baseball season completely depends on how the players get along.

Also, Bill is claiming dissension during the same season starting pitchers were eating fried chicken and drinking beer in the clubhouse. Apparently a few people on the team liked each other enough to eat chicken and drink beer together.

Simmons: You're right, that 2001 team was openly unbearable. It was like one of those families that fight in restaurants in public. The 2011 team was more like one of those creepy, Ordinary People families that seem fine on the surface … but they're not.

And yet, no one reported on this at the time. All the reporting on the Red Sox's dysfunction comes AFTER the collapse. Funny how hindsight works like that, right?

Schur: Yeah, "Fried Chicken and Beer" is never going away. Ever. We'll be talking about Fried Chicken and Beer in 30 years. Which is silly, because I would set the over/under on "MLB clubhouses regularly stocked with fried chicken and/or beer" at 14.5, and take the over. When it leaked that Kevin Millar had the team taking Jack Daniel's shots before playoff games in 2004, people were happy about it, because they won. It's fascinating, but completely understandable, that the same exact behavior reads completely differently when a team loses.

Exactly. I have said the same thing. Clearly, great minds think alike. On that note, isn't there someone smarter for Michael Schur to correspond with? This is like watching Nerlens Noel compete against high school players.

This is the first indication that Michael Schur will reject Bill's comments and try to focus Bill away from inane theories and ground him more in reality.

Simmons: The offseason hits kept coming when Chicago hired Theo Epstein (the guy who built our two title teams) AND Jed Hoyer (the guy we always assumed would come back to replace Theo when Theo finally left).

Schur: Theo leaving burns pretty badly, though the fact that his last few free-agent acquisitions were so stunningly terrible makes it a little easier to swallow.

Clearly, Theo Epstein is washed up. He'll never sign another free agent that plays well.

Simmons: Yeah, it's hard to believe that the same guy who was once so obsessed with finding value, building around under-29 elite players, throwing gobs of money into his farm system and avoiding the old Red Sox mistake of splurging on free agents hitting their 30s was suddenly so willing to overpay the Crawfords and Lackeys.

I am sure this had nothing to do with a fan base and ownership that wants to compete with the Yankees on the free agent market for the "best" players available. I'm sure Epstein's sudden willingness to throw gobs of money at players had nothing to do with ownership and some fans (like Peter King) who expect the Red Sox to spend money or else they will be called cheap. Then Epstein would be accused of not putting a great product on the field simply because the players at each position aren't household names.

Simmons: Part of me wonders if, when you have that money available, you eventually can't resist the urge to say "Fuck it" and start spending it over sticking to what got you there.

That's exactly what happened to the Red Sox in some ways, Bill. This has happened with many other large market teams as well over the years. Thanks for catching up with the rest of us.

Schur: I think that any organization that has a ton of cash runs the risk of recklessly spending the cash, especially when there are very high expectations for the organization's performance. Partly because they know that they can cover their mistakes with more cash, and partly because, well, it's exciting to spend money, and less exciting not to spend it. In this case, I believe the Sox front office looked at an aging Yankees franchise, with multiple bad long-term contracts at key positions, and thought: "If we can get Adrian Gonzalez, John Lackey, and Carl Crawford, we can step on their throats and drum them into third place in the division for five years." They went 1-for-3.

Really? No one better for Michael Schur to exchange emails with?

This is exactly correct, yet again. While Bill is touches on the issue like only a helicopter fan can (I call someone who is a helicopter fan a person that is a true fan of the team, but only is a fan in general of the team and doesn't try or care to understand the in-depth knowledge of the team. It isn't necessarily an insult as long as the person doesn't try to pretend to know more than he/she does), Michael Schur points out WHY the Red Sox spent like they did.

Simmons: Also, they panicked because of what was happening in Boston that winter — the Pats were on a roll, the Celts had the NBA's best record, the Bruins were coming on (and headed for a title), and meanwhile, we were coming off a fairly boring Red Sox season and the whole "Look how nice Fenway is now!" dynamic had been played out.

No, Bill. Not at all. The Red Sox spent that money for baseball-related reasons, not for some soap opera reason in order to keep up with the rest of the Boston sports teams.

Has anyone ever discussed your favorite sports team with someone who clearly isn't on your level or is more of a helicopter fan of a team? I know it sounds egotistical to ask that, but we've probably all been there. I have a friend who can't even discuss his own team without sounding like an idiot and getting the names of the players on the team wrong (he calls NCAA official Karl Hess "Craig Hess"). That's how this exchange between Simmons and Schur feels. Michael Schur says something intelligent and Bill Simmons does his shtick that got old a few seasons ago. It doesn't feel like a conversation between two diehard Red Sox fans.

Getting Gonzalez made sense, but Crawford always felt like one of those, "Look at us! We made a big move! HEY, LOOK AT US!!!!" Steinbrennerian luxury purchases that big-budget teams make for headlines.

Bill Simmons is a genius when it comes to hindsight. Give him a few years, he can tell you everything a team did wrong. Expect him to say what is right or wrong at the time? Eh, he can't do that.

Schur: Maybe, maybe not. The previous year Crawford hit .307/.356/.495, and he was 28/29. He seemed for all the world like a guy who was finally realizing his potential, and they had every expectation that he'd be an elite player for at least three to four years.


This isn't even a fair discussion. Michael Schur has actual evidence to refute Bill's claims that are based completely on hindsight.

Simmons: I'm going to print that last paragraph out and tape it next to my television, then read it every time he swings at a two-strike ball in the dirt when it's second and third with two outs this season.

This is the difference in a sports fan (Michael Schur) and a fan of sports (Bill Simmons). Bill Simmons likes sports, but he only likes them in the realm of how he can compare them to other things and he isn't really interested in the factual part of sports, but how the sports make him feel. Michael Schur clearly enjoys sports. Michael Schur has evidence for why Crawford's signing made sense and Bill Simmons has hyperbolic proof based on a fictional situation.

(Though I give Bill credit when it comes to the NBA. He does appear to care more in-depth about the NBA.)

Seriously, this conversation is exposing Bill Simmons. His legion of dedicated SimmonsClones, please take note. This is your hero getting exposed by a knowledgeable sports fan who won't readily accept Bill's bizarre comparisons and proclamations of what the Red Sox should have done after the fact.

You're going to read that paragraph out loud 200 times?! That seems excessive. And for the record, I didn't really care about Theo's compensation from the Cubs. What did we think we were going to get for him? Some fans were holding out for Garza or something, but realistically, no one important was ever coming back to Boston. I also think it was annoying and petty to draw it out so long — but in this case, I blame Bud Selig.

Simmons: I'm always for blaming Bud Selig.

Does it sound like Bill is keeping up? Michael Schur brings up a good point about no one of importance coming back to the Red Sox from the Cubs and Bill latches on to his last sentence and says he is always for blaming Bud Selig. Bill has no response to Schur's refutation that the Red Sox could have gotten something of value in return for Theo Epstein. Bill just makes a silly comment about Bud Selig always being to blame. This is why Simmons doesn't allow comments on his articles. His ego can't stand that he isn't allowed to spout nonsense and it be refuted in a public setting.

Simmons: Good segue to another offseason "thing" that happened: We spent nearly two months looking for a manager while everyone predicted, "This is a charade, they're going to hire Bobby V.," only Cherington was clearly thinking, Whatever I do, I don't want to hire Bobby V. and interviewing everyone short of Darrell Johnson's embalmed corpse. What happened? You guessed it … we ended up hiring Bobby V.

So Bill doesn't seem to like the Bobby Valentine signing.

Schur: Here's the glass-half-full view of this: Boston has a ton of great players, and baseball managing isn't about constant moment-to-moment decisions the way basketball or football managing is. Really — and this goes doubly for Boston, or New York, or Philly — it's about keeping the team together and focused over an absurdly long season, and dealing with the constant crush of media types who work 18 hours a day trying to slake the thirst of idiots like us who care very deeply about whether starting Lars Anderson at DH against the Blue Jays in May would give the team a 2 percent better chance to win. I think Valentine is a good choice, given that.

(Bill thinking...backtrack, backtrack, backtrack)

Simmons: I can't decide where I fall on the Bobby V. thing yet.

Bill will let us know how he feels about Valentine after Valentine has won a World Series with the Red Sox or has gotten fired by the Red Sox. Bill should have an opinion after this all plays out on whether Valentine was a good choice as manager or not. I'm sure he'll also have an analogy to compare Valentine's time as Red Sox manager to.

It worries me that so many baseball people ridiculed it, but on the other hand, it's not like he failed miserably at his other two stops.

Other than never having managed a team that has won their division and now he is managing in the toughest division in baseball.

Simmons: We traded our shortstop (Marco Scutaro, the team's most reliable hitter down the stretch) to create cap space to sign Roy Oswalt even though baseball doesn't have a salary cap.

Just a few moments ago Bill was lamenting the excessive spending for luxury players the Red Sox exhibited which led to the signing of Carl Crawford. Now he is mad the Red Sox didn't spend more money to sign an aging pitcher coming off an injury-shortened season.

Simmons: Man, I hope you're right. Having a crappy shortstop is like having a crappy goalie, point guard, field goal kicker or closer. It just haunts you day after day after day.

Of course it does Bill. Here, have a cookie and let Michael Schur speak.

Schur: Well, remember, Pokey Reese played 96 games in 2004, sported a 46 OPS+, and the team won the World Series.

Again, lawyered. Don't bring that "I just thought of this and will throw it out there as a fact even though it isn't" shit in here. Michael Schur will swat it away every time.

Scutaro was a solid player, but he's 36. Baseball Prospectus has him as being worth about a win and a half next year, and there's a decent chance Aviles/Iglesias can match that.

Simmons: Believe me, I'm fine with Iglesias hitting .205 and being a vacuum at short.

Which perfectly explains why Bill was just concerned the Red Sox would start Iglesias or Aviles and have a crappy shortstop...because Bill is so comfortable with Iglesias starting at shortstop.

Simmons: And Crawford had 50 of the 125 worst at-bats I've ever seen a Red Sox player have last year.

This is just stupid and brings nothing to the discussion.

Simmons: Here's the part I don't get — every other team seems to have these live young arms falling out left and right. We spend $175 million a year — where are Boston's versions of Vinnie Pestano, Greg Holland, Addison Reed or whoever? Why don't we ever get lucky with those wacky Grant Balfour/Joel Peralta types?

Because the Red Sox generally don't focus on looking for relievers who have no history of pitching well in the majors, but have exhibited talent and will pitch for cheap. The Red Sox look for Billy Jenks and Scott Schoeneweis. There's nothing wrong with that either, but the Red Sox don't look for unproven relievers who have bounced around a bit like Grant Balfour.

Also, Bill is complaining the Red Sox don't have arms falling right and left, yet the Red Sox have produced Bard, Lester, Buchholz, and Papelbon over the past couple of years. They also have traded some of their best pitchers in the farm system to get guys like Adrian Gonzalez, so you have to factor that in as well. If you are trading for Adrian Gonzalez then it can negatively affect the quality of arms in the farm system. I wouldn't expect Bill to be able to think of things like this though. He wants to trade for Adrian Gonzalez and still have a stocked farm system.

Schur: But as to your other point, the minors have produced Lester, Buchholz, Papelbon, and Bard in recent years, which ain't bad.

Michael Schur made this now Bill has to backtrack quickly.

Simmons: True, but those were high-end blue chippers — I was thinking more about those random 45th-round picks who were former outfielders, get converted to the bullpen and suddenly start throwing 98,

This happens mostly in Bill's mind and doesn't happen very often in real life. Way to create a hyper-specific scenario to make it sound like you knew what you were talking about when confronted with the fact you don't have a point.

(Bill Simmons) "Why don't the Red Sox ever find competent catchers?"

(Michael Schur) "Jason Varitek caught for the Red Sox for years and Victor Martinez was here a few seasons ago."

(Bill Simmons) "True, but those are guys who look like catchers. Why can't the Red Sox find a competent catcher drafted in the 30th round who is 6'4" 200 pounds and hits 30 home runs per year, but also steals 30 bases? Why can't we find those guys?"

(Michael Schur speechless) "Because catchers who meet that hyper-specific scenario are incredibly rare?"

For instance, remember when El Guapo gloriously fell out of the sky in the late '90s? (And caused a 5.5 earthquake when he landed?) We've had bad luck finding those guys. And it seems like it's 100 percent luck. As Boone Logan would tell you.

Boone Logan was drafted in the 20th round and has always been a pitcher. Bill's complaint that the Red Sox don't find 45th round picks, guys who are former outfielders and get converted to the bullpen...well it just hurts my head he is complaining about this.

Simmons: For me, it narrowly edged J.D. Drew's contract officially expiring and Kevin Youkilis proposing to Tom Brady's sister as my favorite highlight of this offseason. It's been a rough winter.

Schur: But I disagree on Drew: He was a good player for the Red Sox. 2011 was kind of a wash, I don't wish that he were back, and he was at times frustrating to watch, but from 2007 to 2010 he was worth the money he was paid, while playing what might be the most difficult RF in baseball.

Challenge him, Bill! Do it!

Simmons: I've heard this argument before. I get it: Statistically, for what he brought to the table offensively and defensively, J.D. Drew was fairly compensated from 2007 to 2010

Sure, statistically J.D. Drew was a good signing, but this one time Bill saw Drew strike out on a called third strike and he didn't like the look on Drew's face so this meant J.D. Drew was a bad signing. So that's Bill's proof that Drew was a bad signing.

as long as you overlooked the part where you needed a quality fourth outfielder to bat against lefties for him, and also as long as you weren't expecting him to be fun to watch on a daily basis.

So as long as you were expecting a good baseball performance from Drew he was a good signing for the Red Sox, but if you watch sports not to watch sports, but as a form of entertainment much like MTV reality shows, J.D. Drew was a disappointment. This says a lot about how Bill Simmons views sports.

Schur: The point is, Drew was not a gigantic mistake. Lackey is (in all likelihood) a different story.

From a sports perspective. But J.D. Drew never smiled, was not fun to watch and there was that one time where he struck out looking. Bill just can't get past that.

Simmons: What do you think of my theory that you should never acquire a player if the fans on his current team are going to make fun of your fans after you get him?

It's stupid.

I really feel like I'm onto something here.

You aren't.

Schur: It's a little like saying you know it's going to rain because your bones ache — but I get the point.

The point Michael Schur gets? That Michael Schur has finally realized he can't discuss sports in a reasonable fashion with a person who is more interested in his half-assed theories being true than actually having an honest discussion.

Simmons: I'm excited for those three weeks before Dice-K's comeback start when I totally talk myself into the whole "He's going to turn it around because Bobby V. speaks Japanese!" thing.

Schur: That seems like tenuous causality at best, but I'm with you.

Again, this is why Bill Simmons doesn't allow comments on his columns. Michael Schur is a television producer/screenwriter and he is wiping the floor with Bill's theories, attempts at finding causality, and making Bill backtrack on dumb statements he has made. Bill is talking about his favorite baseball team. The same baseball team he wrote book on and this book made him a ton of money. This shouldn't be a foreign topic for Bill, but it appears people don't call him on his bullshit quite often. I don't know how he does podcasts with intelligent guests.

Simmons: I'm excited that my expectations aren't ludicrously sky-high like they were last year. ("Ludicrously sky-high" is never a good thing.) I'm excited to watch Red Sox games on my new iPad in various settings — the living room, dinner, the movies, school plays, you name it — without my wife or kids totally realizing it.

(In a Ron Burgundy voice) "I'm not sure if you heard me or not, but I've got an iPad. Yeah, I am pretty up to date on technology and can use that bad boy pretty much anywhere. It's one of those things that are expensive, but I can afford them. As you can see from the oil paintings on the wall and the signed poster of Adam Carola, people know me. If you want, you can touch my iPad, but will probably want to keep it."

You're right. Most of all, I'm excited for us to get smeared in the Boston Globe by the Red Sox owners if they don't like this column.

Schur: You didn't hear it from me, but rumor is, you have a prescription-pill problem.

How are those hockey tickets working out for you, Bill? (checks NHL standings) Oh, the Kings are only on the cusp of making the playoffs? No wonder you haven't written about them very much. No star to hitch that wagon to.

So this was Bill Simmons whining about the Red Sox season before it even began and reminding us all how full of shit he sounds like when getting feedback on his statements from an intelligent Red Sox fan.


Anonymous said...

Any chance Michael Schur can debate with Gregg Easterbrook?

Bengoodfella said...

Anon, I would love that. I went into it wondering how Schur would come off. He came off as reasonable, intelligent, and not a knee-jerk reactionary-type of fan. I was impressed.

He would destroy Easterbrook. Though I don't know you personally, but I'm guessing you could probably destroy Easterbrook too.

jacktotherack said...

I like that you can actually see Schur having less fun as the emails continue. It's beautiful.

Bengoodfella said...

Jack, you can. He gets a little impatient towards the end and starts making comments like:

Schur: That seems like tenuous causality at best, but I'm with you.


Schur: It's a little like saying you know it's going to rain because your bones ache — but I get the point.

If the divide between Bill and other "educated" fans wasn't clear enough to me prior to this discussion, it is very, very clear at this point.

Arjun Chandrasekhar said...

it's funny, i remember reading this article a few months ago

and i had literally the exact same reaction you had ben. it's just jarring how different the level of rationality and logic displayed by the two participants in the discussion is. i know nothing about baseball so i have no opinion on the actual truth of the claims, but it's just so clear that keri (or in your case schur) come to their conclusions in so much more thoughtful, intelligent, and measured chain of reasoning as opposed to simmons, who shuns hard, tangible evidence for knee-jerk reactions, wild hypotheticals, unprovable claims, and intangible nonsense factors. I get the same vibe whenever i hear klosterman go on the bs report - i just don't understand why such smart people want to have conversations with bill when it's clear that he's a fanboy who doesn't think on the same plane as they do. and the best part is that i imagine schur and keri intentionally dumbed themselves down for these email exchanges and STILL managed to come off as a million times smarter than bill.

Bengoodfella said...

Arjun, I think they take part because Bill does have a huge fan base and it is a good way to get your voice heard. I think you focused on the disparity between the two pretty well.

I will read that Simmons-Keri article. I try to avoid them because I don't think they'd be interesting. I could have to change my mind though. I always thought Bill would come off better in a conversation like this than he did.

I was a bit surprised Bill's schtick of unprovable claims and wild hypotheticals didn't stop once he talked with a person who actually knew something about the subject at hand. It didn't though. It appears Bill's schtick is really how he thinks. I always thought he was just trying to entertain the audience, when he actually speaks nonsense constantly.