Tuesday, January 22, 2013

5 comments Bill Simmons Gives the History of His Mailbag...Because, You Know, We Care and All

Bill Simmons does mailbags a lot now. Bill Simmons likes doing mailbags. Bill Simmons gives the history of his mailbags today. I don't particularly care. Because mailbags are Bill's favorite gimmick to use (and they are his favorite because he doesn't have to think of a column idea, which is convenient given the fact he seems to have run out of column ideas), he did another mailbag to go with his NFL Playoffs Divisional Round Picks. As always I will be mocking the SimmonsClones that write the questions and desperately want Bill's acceptance, as well as critiquing Bill himself.

{I am aware this isn't Bill's latest column and are his picks for the Divisional Round. I accidentally posted something else last week when I wanted to post this column, so figured I would rather post this on Tuesday rather than post TMQ on Monday. Bill's column, since it was mostly a mailbag felt less immediate than TMQ does. Plus, I like to give TMQ time to breathe during the week and not post over it too quickly with another long post, so the idea of posting TMQ late Thursday, this post on Friday and then my conference picks before the games on Sunday seemed like a lot of writing in a short time period. I'm just rambling at this point. Look! Something shiny!}

I had a more ambitious plan for my Round 2 playoff column, but my readers sent along so many quality mailbag questions that I didn't have a choice.

(Bill thinking) "Do I have any column ideas this week? I don't think I do. I could sit here and think of an idea or I could simply have my lemming-like readers write in questions and I will respond in a manner that reminds everyone I am the smartest guy in the room at all times. Yeah, mailbag it is."

Quick background on mailbags:

This "quick background" takes up 1088 words by the way. I can't cover it all. I have patience, but not that much patience.

Before my site launched, I sketched out a few running gimmicks that, in my opinion, could definitely work for a frequent online column. One idea was a straight rip-off of one of my favorite David Letterman gimmicks: "Viewer Mail." 

Don't ever think this whole "famous for being a sportswriter who writes like a fan" thing happened accidentally. Bill wasn't just writing and then got discovered for how well he wrote. It's all a plan. He plays the role of writing like the fan and the  mailbags and other gimmicks were part of his plan to get readers. I'm not knocking it, (thinks introspectively) we all play a certain role when we write, but Bill didn't just one day come up with his mailbags, it was a plan to have a running gimmick in order to get noticed. Again, not knocking it, just saying Bill had a plan and his success wasn't all an accident. He wrote in a way to get readers to read what he writes and did an outstanding job of reaching this goal.

I was especially excited for three ideas: I wanted to write a running diary of watching the NBA draft at my dad's house, I wanted to write about the 30 Worst Sports Movies of all time, and I wanted to write a "Viewer Mail" column. But I needed enough decent e-mails to pull it off. I posted my first four columns and stuck my AOL e-mail underneath every one of them, hoping I'd get enough e-mails for an entire "Viewer Mail."

I'm not sure why this story hasn't been turned into a movie yet. Get Aaron Sorkin writing the script immediately. I need David Fincher to direct.

But in 1997 the Internet was a bizarre cross between the Wild Wild West and a maximum-security prison. There were no rules, no accountability, and more incoherent, typo-infested, all-caps e-mails than you can possibly imagine.

Two comments from me

1. How the hell is this different from how the Internet is today? This is a perfect description about the Internet in 2013. In 2013, where is there accountability, rules or a lack of trolls at nearly any site you choose to visit?

2. I'm glad Bill is around to tell us all what the Internet was like 1997. Without him, we wouldn't have an idea of what the Internet was like 16 years ago. As I always say, nothing truly exists until Bill acknowledges its existence. He had to tell us what the Internet was like because we are all too stupid in his mind to remember what the Internet was like. Either that or Bill believes he was the only one who used the Internet in 1997.

I thought about calling the first one "Reader Mail" (as a Letterman homage) before ultimately settling on the totally forgettable moniker "Feedback."

This is as opposed to the original moniker "The Boston Sports Guy" and the even more original-pretending-to-be-less-Boston-centric moniker "The Sports Guy." Those are some unforgettably original and non-generic monikers.

Just for unintentional comedy's sake, here was the e-mail (and my response):
MZAMIARA WRITES: You've got it out for the Tiger. Let's see you make that kind of money on your sticky candy-coated couch potato Sega joy stick. Do you get nervous when that pizza man is about to bang on your door when you go to make that 12 foot putt?
SG: Hah! When I'm playing Sega Genesis, I can tune out just about everything — Charlestown parents screaming at their children ("Bow-bby, Maaaaak, Jenni-fah, come he-ahhh!"), the sweltering heat of my 4th floor apartment, the cackling sounds of my roommate as he watches Howard Stern's "E! Television" show, girlfriends leaving nasty messages on my answering machine ("Bill, I think we need to talk … I don't like how you make me wear Larry Bird's jersey to bed every night … "). Let me tell you, the pizza man ringing the doorbell doesn't even faze me. I welcome the distraction.
For God's sake, read that thing again! Did I even write that?

Bill could take the Sega Genesis and Howard Stern reference out of this answer and I would think it was from a 2013 column. Bill has become less creative and more repetitive since 1997, but if he thinks his writing style and jokes have changed that much in 16 years then he isn't very self-aware.

Who was that guy?

That guy is the same guy writing right now. There are differences, but possibly fewer than Bill wants to admit.

We posted the "Feedback" column and … boom! Coherent e-mails started trickling in! The next "Feedback" was significantly meatier. From there, we were off and running. To be clear — I'm not taking credit for creating mailbags or anything. It couldn't have been a more obvious gimmick for an online column.

Bill isn't taking credit for creating mailbags. Not at all. He knows he is the creator of mailbags, but he's not taking credit at this point.

But there was no model to point to in 1997, either. How long should these be? How long should my answers be? Could I make fun of readers within the column, or would they take it personally? Could I use the same person twice in the same column, or would it seem like I was desperate for e-mails? If a reader wrote something offensive, could I still run that e-mail and make fun of it, or was I condoning that e-mail by running it?

Boy, these are tough questions. I say Bill doesn't answer these questions right now and just saves the answers for the inevitable "30 for 30" episode about him and his reader mailbags.

"What if I told you readers could interact with a sportswriter in a way that has never been accomplished before? What if the readers made that sportswriter famous through a symbiotic process where they each justified the other's existence? What if the sportswriter threw the fact he had success beyond his wildest dreams back in the reader's face by bragging about how many famous people he knows and they were too stupid to realize it?"

I have never made up an e-mail simply because I never needed to make one up.

Sure, I believe this. Bill "never" made a question up (wink, wink).

I genuinely love writing them. And actually, I always write them long and end up cutting backward — there's usually 1,000 or so words that get chopped every time.

I'm intrigued by this idea of cutting backwards, as if it is different from editing. What is the alternative to cutting backwards? Cutting forwards? Cutting out words from a column when those words haven't been written yet? So basically Bill is thinking of a creative way (I guess he can still be somewhat creative when he needs to be) to say he edits his mailbags.

This week? We were about 10 e-mails too long. So fuck yeah, we're doing a two-part mailbag before Round Two picks.

He said "fuck." What a rebel. Creating Grantland was totally worth it in order to be able to write down curse words in his columns. It's so edgy you could cut yourself on the printed words.

Q: Why isn't it a bigger deal that Aaron Rodgers is going up against the team that passed on him with their first pick in the 2005 NFL Draft?
—Mike, Oregon, WI

SG: Hmmmmmmmm …

Are you telling me Aaron Rodgers hasn't gone to bed every night since April 23, 2005 waiting for a moment like this give the 49ers a huge F-U? This has the potential to be the biggest revenge story since Arnold in Commando.
— Matt Gullickson, Laguna Niguel

SG: Whoa, video evidence plus a forced reference to a 1980s movie? You know the key to my heart, Matt Gullickson.

Self-awareness does no good if it doesn't result in any type of change. Plus, it was considered a pretty big deal that Aaron Rodgers was going against the team that passed on him with the first pick and right near the hometown he grew up in as well (not really, because supposedly Aaron Rodgers grew up 170 miles from San Francisco, but never let the truth get in the way of a story). The media talked about this a lot. Like more than they should have considering Rodgers grew up three hours from San Francisco. Think of what city is three hours from where you live. Is that close to your hometown? Then that's why this story was somewhat silly. Other teams passed on Rodgers too, so it isn't like the 49ers were the only ones who didn't draft Rodgers.

Let's quickly zip through Rodgers's potential for an Eff You game.

Motivation: Through the roof. He's been waiting for eight solid years to play this specific game. And it's do-or-die to boot.

What about Colin Kaepernick's motivation to play a great game since he grew up a Wisconsin fan? Does that story just not fit the narrative?

Danger of Him Being Adrian Balboa'ed: (a.k.a. domesticated by a new wife or girlfriend who is either giving him phenomenal, mind-altering sex or saying things to him like "You have to stop blaming the Niners, it's juvenile, you're better than that" or "Your offensive line can't block, you're playing on the road … YOU CAN'T WIN!!!!!!").

No Bill Simmons column would be complete without a little bit of woman-hating. The only thing that can stop athletes from reaching their potential is some woman nagging him or using her special woman powers to divert him from his real ambitions. It was tongue-in-cheek the first 100 times Bill brought this exact same issue up in his columns over the last decade.

Niners star Justin Smith is either missing the game or playing hurt (huge blow to their pass rush) … Green Bay's receiving crew is the healthiest it's been all year … Rodgers is going against a first-year starter, so really, you'd be taking A FIRST-YEAR STARTER AGAINST AARON F-ING RODGERS … 

Notice through this entire summary of why Aaron Rodgers may have an "Eff You" game there isn't one mention of Green Bay's defense. It's almost like defense is important and the Packers have to try to defend the 49ers from scoring points as well. What ended up happening? The Green Bay defense couldn't stop the 49ers offense.

oh, and he's playing in the Bay Area against his hometown team, which didn't take him in the draft, in case you forgot.

This narrative drives me crazy. This isn't his hometown team. Aaron Rodgers grew up three hours away from San Francisco. Three hours is a long drive to say the 49ers are Rodgers' "hometown" team. Yes, Rodgers is from California, but it isn't like he grew up wandering around Candlestick Park or anything.

Q: Can we get a Levels of Losing ruling for the Redskins-Seahawks game: Watching the amazing athlete who saved your team shred his ligaments bit by bit, knowing he has no chance of pulling it out, yet the defense holds you in there until the end, realizing it was a wonderful season but now, with the bad snap everyone saw coming for three quarters, it may never happen again, confirming your fears that this was just too good to be true. The game doesn't matter. If only RGIII had made it out OK, I'd be alright.
—Milse, Brooklyn

I can give you a ruling that you need to put your big boy pants on and stop whining to Bill Simmons. I can also get a ruling for you that even if RGIII had made it out of that game ok, then you would still not be alright because you whine to a national columnist about your favorite sports team as if he was actually a friend of yours.

SG: After Tom Brady blew out his knee eight minutes into the 2008 season, I created a new Level of Losing called "The Left at the Altar Loss", which I described at the time as "When you're waiting for months and months for the season to start (like planning a wedding), then you have your fantasy drafts (the bachelor party), then you have the rehearsal dinner the night before (making your starting fantasy lineups, making your bets, figuring out which games you'll watch Sunday), then you go to the church for the actual wedding (getting in front of the TV for the 1 p.m. ET games) … and as you're standing on the altar, you find out your bride either changed her mind or got run over by the limo driver. 

Or as every other sports fan would have described what happened to the Patriots in 2008, "Our best player got injured the first week of the new NFL season." Bill likes to over-describe a situation in order to give the illusion of creativity. Mind you, the Patriots went 11-5 that year and somehow didn't make the playoffs. So using his typical technique of whining about it whenever his team doesn't win the championship in a given year, Bill is basically wanting everyone to feel bad for him because the Patriots lost Tom Brady and went 11-5. Yes, the Patriots lost Tom Brady in 2008, but I have a hard time feeling bad for an NFL team that has been to five Super Bowls since 2002...yet this sympathy is what Bill expects because he is always so freaking tortured by his teams.

Q: Was watching the Seahawks-Redskins game with a couple friends. As it was coming to an end, we were trying to figure out who the Hawks were going to play next. We easily named off SF and GB, but we couldn't remember who the other NFC playoff team was. It took us all about two minutes to finally say, "oh yeah, the Falcons!!!" Nobody believes in them. I can't be the only one who finds this hilarious. They could have finished 16-0 and still only Rembert would believe in them.
—Derek, Seattle

SG: (Suddenly nervous about the Seahawks +2.5.)

Right, because you, Derek, didn't remember the Falcons were the #1 seed in the NFC then this means no one else knew this either, because your thoughts have to be the same as every other sports fan's thoughts. I can see why Bill is your hero. Both of you have very self-centric points of view on the world.

Q: So I was preparing for my first sexual experience this weekend

I'm assuming this first sexual experience was with a hooker or with yourself because no self-respecting person would write to Bill Simmons about his first sexual experience and actually have a woman want to sleep with him.

and I encountered something more nerve-wracking than the experience itself … buying the condom. How does one go about it?

You put on your big boy pants (my phrase of the day apparently), go into a store, and then buy a box of condoms. It's very, very nerve-wracking unless you have nerves of jello or are 13 years old. I'm feeling bad for this kid. He's not only writing to Bill Simmons about his first sexual experience, but he also seems to not understand how to buy condoms. Here's a little tip. If you are too nerve-wracked to buy condoms, then you are going to be super-screwed (no pun intended) once you begin experiencing your first sexual experience and the girl throws a curveball in the gameplan.

Do you go to a convenience store far away so no one recognizes you? Do you buy other things with it so it looks like you haven't been dreading this moment all day? Do you look the cashier in the eye like "Yeah … you know what's up." No sports question here, just an important life question.

You go to a store where condoms are sold and then purchase a box. If the cashier is male and looks at you funny or with a smirk, simply say, "I need these for sex because aluminum foil didn't work so well last time. You probably know better than me actually, what kind of condom does your sister prefer?" If the cashier is a female and looks at you in a judging fashion, simply say, "I would ask you to join, but we do have a weight limit" and that should diffuse any tension immediately.

SG: Two tips: Always buy a few other things and ALWAYS make eye contact. And make the eye contact with one of those "That's right, I'm getting laid tonight" looks on your face. 

Not terrible advice. The scariest part is that someone actually wrote into Bill Simmons with this question.

I watched every play of that game with Mays and Jacoby from Grantland; we didn't even have the "Should they pull Griffin for Cousins?" conversation until Seattle went up by seven. (They said no. I said yes, but only because I thought Cousins had proven himself in a similar situation.)

Bill with the name-dropping as usual. Bill is incapable of simply saying he watched a sporting event with other people. He always has to name that other person for some reason, usually because the person he watched the sporting even with is a celebrity or has some level of fame.

Q: This should have been an easy victory for the NHL. The season will happen, hockey is back, Hallelujah Amen. BOOM! Instead they picked the worst possible time/manner to announce the deal. First, they made the announcement on 6 am on a Sunday. I don't know about you, but I'm almost always guaranteed to be passed out at that point. By the time I'm awake/not hungover it's football time. Why would the NHL announce the deal on a day that some major playoff games were happening? Are they shortsighted when it comes to EVERYTHING? I need ANSWERS!

—James Cutler, Philly

SG: That e-mail was Reason No. 193 why Gary Bruce Bettman is the NHL's serial killer. Reason No. 194: Instead of "leaking" a tentative schedule for that first weekend of games (January 19 and 20) before the players ratified the new CBA, the league smartly decided not to leak anything — now we're eight days away from the start of the season, and no NHL season-ticket holder can make plans that weekend or effectively answer questions like, "Should we make dinner reservations for that Saturday night or do you have a hockey game?" or "Are we still going camping this weekend or do we have to stick around?" And god forbid you have kids with scheduled playdates, birthday parties, soccer games or whatever — you're at the whim of Gary Bruce Bettman, the most incompetent sports commissioner who ever lived.

Doesn't Gary Bettman know that Bill Simmons, extremely casual hockey fan whenever the Kings or Bruins are winning, needs to know the NHL schedule now so that no playdates or soccer games interfere with the games? Because we all know yanking your kid from a birthday party to go to a fucking hockey game would go over incredibly well. Or was Bill looking to force the birthday kid to change the date so he can attend a hockey game?

"Sorry little Alex, if you want my son, and therefore me, to attend your birthday party you have to reschedule it around the Kings' hockey schedule. Change the date or I won't be there. I will send you a list of acceptable dates for your party by email later tonight."

True story: My father is visiting next weekend to see his grandkids and possibly watch the Broncos-Patriots game if the Patriots can get past Houston this weekend.

That's a true story and not at all made up? Riveting. True story: We don't need an update on what your family is doing or who is visiting. Though I could go for another picture of Bill's dad's mustache because it is awesome.

The Sports Gal and I ended up having this exchange.

So Bill's readers get an update on who is visiting the Simmons household AND a lengthy transcript of a conversation he had with his wife? Is this Christmas in January? I will mention an interesting comment my wife or someone else made from time-to-time on Twitter, but I'm not going to include a lengthy transcript of a conversation because NOBODY CARES.

I hate to ruin the entire conversation for everyone, but it ends this way:

Her: "So we can't plan anything on Saturday until we find out if there's a hockey game."
Me: "Basically."
Her: "Even thought it's basically a week from now?"
Me: "Right. And even though they've been holding my season-ticket money since last April."

Why can't the Sports Gal write Bill's columns for him anymore? I still think the reason she quit writing in Bill's columns like she used to do is because Bill realized the readers found her to be more interesting than him. Bill has to be the smartest and most clever guy in the room, so the Sports Gal had to go.

Q: Since Nate Silver is predicting a Pats-Seahawks Superbowl (and seeing that he has been 100% right lately) what are you going to do if that happens?
—Dave, So. Florida

Well, it turns out this ended up not happening. I'm not sure I get the question though. What would Bill do? Umm...maybe watch the Super Bowl on television or try to attend the game?

SG: And if it ends up being Pats-Seahawks, I need you to understand something. There's only one thing worse than losing a Super Bowl to anyone named "Manning" … and that's losing a Super Bowl to Pete Carroll. If the Seahawks are standing in the way of our fourth Bowl, I will turn on Russell Wilson faster than Magic Johnson turned on the Mike D'Antoni hiring.

"We're so tortured! It would be so terrible to lose to Pete Carroll, because when the Patriots fired Pete Carroll it led to the Patriots hiring one of the greatest head coaches in NFL history, five Super Bowl appearances and a Patriots dynasty. It's so terrible if we had to play Pete Carroll and lost the Super Bowl even though it led to the greatest period of success in Patriots history! Sympathy me!"

Is there nothing Bill Simmons will refrain from whining about? He works so hard to give New England fans a bad reputation. It would have been interesting if the Patriots had lost a Super Bowl to their ex-head coach, but it isn't the worst thing that could happen next to losing to a Manning. The firing of Pete Carroll led to the greatest period in Patriots history, yet Bill still finds a way to whine about potentially losing a Super Bowl to Carroll. Things could not have worked out better for the Patriots after Carroll got fired, but Bill still plays the whining/sympathy card.

Then Bill brings up a pretty good point about Christian Ponder and how the perception of him has changed slightly because Joe Webb stunk it up in the playoff game against the Packers. Ponder was seen as the weak link for the Vikings, and while there is still this perception, his stock has increased some with Webb's performance against the Packers. When Bill doesn't have his head up in his own ass, he can still make an interesting point.

Q: It's finally here, the moment I've been waiting for all season; the chance to bet a road underdog against the Falcons in the Playoffs. But now I'm second guessing myself. Thinking this is the year Matt Ryan finally breaks through because they are the "Nobody believes in us" 13-3 #1 seed. I hate this.
—AJ, Peabody, MA

SG: Keep your eyes on the prize. Don't get suckered in by the whole "West Coast team playing a 1 p.m. East Coast game" thing, Chris Clemons's knee injury, or even the fact that it's the most important game Matt Ryan has ever played (and he knows it). And don't worry about the "Nobody Believes In Us" thing. The Giants murdered that theory this season. Everyone's onto it now. Can't work if everyone has their guards up. Take the Seahawks, take the points. They are better.

Bill Simmons created the "Nobody Believes in Us" thing himself, so now he is the one proclaiming it to be dead because it didn't work for the Giants? Does he really believe the 2012 New York Giants were the first team to do the whole "Nobody Believed in Us" thing and not have it work out? Nearly every sports team at some point plays the "Nobody Believed in Us" card and sometimes it turns out not working for them. But no, in 2012 because it didn't work for the New York Giants then the theory has been murdered.

Look for Bill to use the "Nobody Believed in Us" mantra at some point in the future in one of his columns (spoiler alert: or this column). He'll think of an excuse for why the theory is no longer murdered.

Q: After the formal introduction of Andy Reid as Kansas City's new head coach, do you realize the Chiefs have hired two more of your "Flabbergasted Four" as head coaches, giving them three in all (Herm Edwards, Romeo Crennel and Andy Reid)! Can I get a "ladies and gentlemen your Kansas City Chiefs?"
—Chris James, Blackstone, NY

SG: And don't rule out the Chiefs firing Andy in 2016 and hiring Brad Childress to complete the Flabbergasted Four Trifecta! (Wait, what? They're already talking to Brad about joining Andy's staff? Are we sure?) In all caps … LADIES AND GENTLEMEN … YOUR KANSAS CITY CHIEFS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I've always noticed how a lot of what Bill writes becomes a circular discussion and very self-contained in the topics discussed...at least in the mailbags he runs. A mailbag usually consists of Bill's readers telling him how right he was about something, contributing to an idea that Bill has created or Bill improving upon an idea his readers already have. Bill's writing usually progresses this way:

1. Bill creates a "team" of athletes or celebrities or makes a joke/observation in his column.

2. Bill's readers add names to that team or add on to the joke/observation.

3. Bill then uses this team or joke/observation the reader added, improves on it 10%, because he can't allow someone to be smarter than him and then claims ownership.

4. Bill's readers tell him how smart he is for thinking of this joke/observation or team.

5. Bill's own perception that he is the smartest and most clever guy in the room is reinforced, which is all that seems to matter anyway. The readers see that Bill listens to them and acknowledges their ideas, but because he is so much smarter than them, he had to improve on the idea. It's like one big circle-jerk so that Bill's readers can remind him of how clever and funny he is.

Q: Have you realized that if Peyton's Broncos beat the Patriots this year, Tom Brady & the Patriots will most likely have been denied four additional Super Bowls directly because of the Manning brothers? This got me thinking of a movie idea, involving Bill Belichick as an evil mastermind (not too far off from real-life), who creates a time machine and sends Brady back to the 1970s to stop Archie Manning from conceiving his two sons. With all the different time-travel rules the movie could play with, the possiblities are endless. Wouldn't this be a must-own Blu-ray?
—Adam, Lexington, MA

Uh-oh, this reader has a good idea and seems to be very clever. Bill will not stand for this.

SG: I knew this was a great idea because it could easily be a movie or animated series, but also, it's something I spent about 15 seconds mulling over while thinking, Wait, what if this could actually happen in real life?

Commence with Bill improving the idea by 10% so that he can claim it as his own and also show Adam from Massachusetts that he (Bill) is the smartest and most clever guy in the room at all times.

But you left out a crucial part of the plot: Roger Goodell catching wind of Belichick's scheme, then going back in time himself to stop Brady (like Robert Patrick in Terminator 2) so he can protect a future world where the Mannings rule football. Oh, and he could spend his spare time convincing thousands of 1970s players to sign documents releasing the league from all accountability for their future health issues while he's there.

Bill can not allow this good idea to stand on its own. He has to improve upon this reader's idea for some reason. This is a common occurrence in Bill's mailbags. His readers submit an idea and then Bill improves on the idea because his ego can't stand the idea of presenting a reader idea without showing how much smarter than the reader he is.

You want to make sure they can throw the ball downfield (they can) and that their big-play guys can make two big plays (yes for the Ravens with Ray Rice, Torrey Smith, Anquan Boldin and even Bernard Pierce), and that they're on something of a mission (Ray Lewis's announcement clinched that). You want to make sure they can handle the January elements (no problem there). And if there's a dash of "Nobody Believes In Us!," even better (and there is).

From earlier in this column:

And don't worry about the "Nobody Believes In Us" thing. The Giants murdered that theory this season. Everyone's onto it now. Can't work if everyone has their guards up.

It seems everyone is on to it now, except when Bill needs to use this theory when it becomes convenient to use this theory. When Bill needs to use "Nobody Believes in Us" reasoning for why a team should win a game, then the idea isn't murdered anymore. So was the "Nobody Believes in Us" thing only dead as it pertains to the Giants? If so, why wouldn't this logic pertain to the Ravens as well? After all, it is hard to believe no one really believes in the Ravens since they made the AFC Championship Game last year. This is the issue with creating theories and not sticking by them, it creates confusion and allows the theory-creator to apply the theory whenever it is convenient for him to do so. Basically, the theory turns into this malleable idea that has no impact on the reader.

Then Bill had the same strange feeling about the Ravens beating the Broncos that I had, which disturbs me beyond belief. This led to a riveting exchange with Mike Lombardi:

Me: "Am I crazy or can the Ravens win this game?"
Lombardi: "You are NOT crazy."

I'm just glad Bill relays these conversations to us. I do find it interesting that Mike Lombardi is supposed to be such a good friend of Bill Belichick's, but Belichick hasn't seen fit to hire Lombardi over the past few years. Maybe Lombardi just liked working for the Cleveland Browns and NFL Network.

My fears for picking against the Falcons: Taking three road teams in Round 2 … going against Matt Ryan in what's clearly a "My Career Is On Trial" Game … the "Nobody Believes In Us Even Though We're A No. 1 Seed" thing … 

Again, this despite the fact Bill said "Nobody Believes in Us" was dead earlier in this very column when discussing these same Falcons. The idea is dead until Bill needs it again.

My fears for picking the Falcons: ...the fact that Seattle has "the look" (as Lombardi loves to say) …

Mike Lombardi, genius in his own mind.

Seattle's oversized cheating cornerbacks matching up nicely with Atlanta's oversized receivers …

After the 2004 AFC Championship Game where the Colts receivers were manhandled by the Patriots secondary, it's hard for me to read Bill referring to the Seahawks corners as "cheating." Or is this a reference to the fact the corners both claim they took Adderall and that's why they tested positive for a banned substance? It's probably a little of both.

PATRIOTS (-10) over Texans

Keep this in mind: The Patriots haven't submitted a dominant playoff performance against a quality team in years. (No, you can't count the Denver Tebows last January.)

And why doesn't this game count? It was a dominant playoff performance. I am guessing it doesn't count because Bill doesn't want it to count, which is pretty much bullshit. He can't say "this game doesn't count" simply because if the game counted it would ruin the point he wants to prove.

"Keep this in mind: Peyton Manning has never won a Super Bowl. (No, you can't count the Super Bowl against Rex Grossman and the Bears)."

It's been 11 years since that first Super Bowl victory in New Orleans, back when Bledsoe and Ty and Willie were still around, when the Patriots franchise was still something of a joke, when the Boston sports scene was stuck in a rut, when it seemed absolutely inconceivable that the New England Patriots would ever win anything other than a booby prize. They ended up winning three Bowls. With a couple of breaks, they could have won three more.

And with a couple of breaks not going their way, they could have won one Super Bowl (Bill continues to consistently try to make people hate New England sports fans, doesn't he?). Keep that in mind as well. The breaks in Super Bowls didn't just go against the Patriots, though I know Bill can't fathom the idea one of his favorite teams may have gotten a break or two. In Bill's mind, his teams are always so tortured that the breaks always go against his favorite teams. So it is unfathomable to Bill that the Patriots benefited from a break or two along the way. Bill is enamored with "what if?" scenarios because it allows him to control sports history in the way that he sees fit.

But the mission will remain the same. And it starts this weekend.

Bill was right, the Patriots won. I don't know who I want to win the Super Bowl, but I always lean towards anti-Patriots just so I don't have to hear Bill Simmons gloat and make up drama-filled narratives about how resilient and outstanding the current Patriots team was as compared to every other team in NFL history. I already have to deal with that bullshit when he discusses the Celtics (which now that they are winning games, he should be discussing the Celtics more often very soon). 


Aaron D. said...

For pure purpose of playing devil's advocate, I'll try my best to explain why Simmons must improve 10% on his reader's ideas. He has to respond with something if he wants to put those letters in the column. He can't just say "Yeah, that's a good one!" and move on (then it's too obvious the readers are doing the work for him.) His answers, while annoying and pompous, give off a back-and-forth like feel, rather than hearing from the readers and only the readers.

JimA said...

Instead they picked the worst possible time/manner to announce the deal. First, they made the announcement on 6 am on a Sunday. I don't know about you, but I'm almost always guaranteed to be passed out at that point. By the time I'm awake/not hungover it's football time. Why would the NHL announce the deal on a day that some major playoff games were happening? Are they shortsighted when it comes to EVERYTHING?

Maybe they made the announcement at 6 am because that's when the agreement was made. There were reporters there, and they could figure out from the reactions of the people involved that something big happened. Are they only supposed to hold off from any announcements until the there is no other sports news? Not everyone gives a shit what the NFL does every day. Nice brag about your drinking problem, though.

JR Ewing Theory said...

You're a better man than I, Ben. I wrote off doing one of his mailbags.

Anonymous said...

Thank you! Nobody puts this idiot in his place like you buddy. Great points all around. Can we find some starfucker in LA to print and then plaster your stuff all over his car? Dude needs a serious reality check and of course TMZDISNESPN puts him on a show with Magic so he is somehow validated in his own mind. Much like the newly unleashed POTUS, I'm afraid with an empowered Simmons we ain't seen nothin yet. Stay on it! @BigCityJob

Bengoodfella said...

Aaron, that is probably correct. It still feels like Bill is trying to outdo what the reader writes. I guess I don't buy the back-and-forth thing since I believe Bill has to be the smartest guy in the room. So I see it less of a case of back-and-forth and more of a case of Bill showing his readers why they should continue to worship him.

Jim, I like the "drinking problem" joke. Doesn't the NHL know they are supposed to not announce the agreement until the NFL season is over or at least on a timetable that suits Bill's readers.

JR, I may have another one coming. We'll see if I muster the energy. Mailbags aren't easy sometimes.

Anon, that's what I thought too when he got NBA Countdown, that his beliefs in himself are now completely validated. He has talent and definitely has pull at ESPN, so I would imagine he could get his own show at some point too. All of this writing business was just a way for him to do what I believe he really wants to do, which is become a celebrity with a television show.