Monday, January 28, 2013

9 comments Bill Simmons Leans on the Mailbag Crutch Once More

Bill Simmons has "written" three columns in the past three weeks. I have accused him of being out of quality column ideas and it seems like I am at least somewhat correct. He's leaning on this mailbag crutch a lot recently. I get that he likes doing mailbags, but it seems like he takes every opportunity possible to churn out a weekly mailbag rather than a weekly original column. It's his weekly column, he can do what he wants I guess. Prior to the NFC/AFC Conference Championship Bill did an all Manti Te'o mailbag and a regular mailbag. It's like at this point he would rather not write any more columns and just focus on how hilariously funny he can show everyone that he is. I'm going to cover the Manti Te'o mailbag only because I can't handle doing two mailbags where Bill and his readers pat him on the back for how clever he is. Bill's SimmonsClones love to email him whenever an sports-related event happens because they require his acceptance and approval in order to justify their existence in the world.

It was noted in the comments of the last Bill Simmons post that Bill probably tries to be smarter than his readers in answering their questions because he wants to make it seem like a back-and-forth conversation. This is probably true, but I am slightly more jaded and believe if Bill wanted this conversation he could have this back-and-forth conversation without attempting to improve on the idea submitted by his overly-loyal readers.

Belichick and Brady might be headed for their sixth Bowl.

Didn't happen. I guess with the Celtics struggling and the Red Sox in a difficult division Bill is going to have to ignore Boston sports for a few months or at least write a column about how these Boston sports teams are "boring" and that's why he hasn't written about them. I don't care if Bill writes about Boston sports or not, but anyone who pays attention can't help but notice he tends to stop writing about his favorite teams when they aren't contenders for that respective sport's championship.

The Falcons might give Atlanta its first asterisk-free championship ever.

Let's be honest: The 1995 baseball season was a flat-out atrocity.

It was a shortened season, but I don't get how that makes it an atrocity. But as a Braves fan I say "fuck you very much" anyway, Bill. Bill has recently become all about the "asterisk" championships in certain sports. Not coincidentally, he doesn't attach many asterisks to championships his favorite teams have won.

Ray Lewis might pull off a 60-tackle postseason just three months after ripping his triceps while drawing no PED suspicion whatsoever.

Nice way of basically accusing Ray Lewis of using PEDs without actually doing it.

I could keep going and going … and that's why we can't waste a column rehashing this admittedly transfixing Manti Te'o story. We're banging out a Te'o-free NFL playoff mailbag

This is an All-Manti Te'o mailbag. Wouldn't a "Te'o-free NFL playoff mailbag" be a mailbag that contains zero mentions of Manti-Te'o?

As always, these are actual e-mails from actual readers.

As always, I somewhat sense this is a lie.

Q: I have no idea what to believe about Manti Te'o, but I am also not ruling anything out. I believe that this is just the 3rd sports related story to enter the Tyson Zone along with Kerrigan/Harding & Thanksgiving with the Woods family. I know you are the best person to confirm this list. 
—Jordan, Springfield, OH

It's very cute how these readers remain so loyal to Bill and believe he is the ultimate person to answer any of their questions. Since Bill created the Tyson Zone he probably is the best person to answer this question, but we all know Jordan from Ohio probably emails Bill with questions about losing his virginity or Jordan emails Bill with how it would feel to have to live without his words and thoughts in his life...Bill just doesn't publish these emails. There is a difference in hero worship and just being creepy.

SG: You're right — I am the best person to confirm this list. I don't know what that says about me, but you came to the right place.

Yes, you are in the right place. Bill is so full of shit, he can think of an answer to this question in a snap. Has Bill told you about his son and all the fun, quirky things that he does which every other child does as well? If you will hold on for 10 minutes let's allow Bill to go into a story about his son and all the awesome things his son says or does that is only tangentially related to sports. 

For a news story to enter the Tyson Zone, that means the story became so insane that you'd believe any new wrinkle relating to that story.

Thanks for clearing up this rule that isn't really a rule since Bill made it up just right now.

Those are the five Tyson Zone stories that stand out for me pre-Manti. Quite a list.

A stellar list really. A list completely created and admired by Bill Simmons as a testament to his own genius and ability to make a subjective list that has absolutely no real world use or purpose, nor does it allow the reader to gain any additional knowledge about sports. I think Bill should have called himself "The Boston List Guy" when he started writing his AOL column a few years ago so it better fit his current persona. Oh well, hindsight is 20/20.

Q: Has the Te'o story already outdone the Tiger Woods story? Or would we also have to find out Te'o was running an underground fake-girlfriend ring for the schoolboys in South Bend?
—Sean, Portland

SG: Please don't forget how breathtakingly incredible that Tiger story was coming out of the gate.

Yeah, don't forget how incredible this story was. It made Bill's "Tyson Zone," so that should tell you something right there.

Put it this way: I still remember where I was when I first heard about the car accident, then saying to my wife, "Hmmmmm … this one doesn't sound right. My shit detector is going off,"

Bill knew ALL ALONG something wasn't right with Tiger's car accident. Sure, Bill didn't say anything publicly about the accident or something not seeming right, but Bill knew ALL ALONG this story was going to be in the Tyson Zone.

followed by her saying, "Mine, too," and it just spiraled out of control from there.

Wait, wait, wait. Bill's wife said, "Mine, too," and "it" just spiraled out of control from there. So Bill and his wife's conversation spiraled out of control from there? You know what, I don't want the answer to this question. More importantly, let me bring something to your attention. Tell me who this describes:

1. Person A has a girlfriend/spouse.

2. Only close friends and family have ever met this girlfriend/spouse.

3. Person A will often talk about his girlfriend/spouse and said girlfriend/spouse will often speak publicly, but in a way that makes it impossible to determine who actually is "speaking" for them. Whether this be through unverifiable written words or through an unverifiable conversation the girlfriend/spouse had with Person A. This girlfriend/spouse is often referenced by Person A in public, though no one outside of Person A's close circle has ever met her.

4. Preliminary digging (which I haven't done on the Internet) reveals no record of said girlfriend/spouse, but we take the person's word that she exists because of the many times Person A has referenced her as existing, while also relaying words or thoughts that she has said to Person A.

5. The relayed words or thoughts are always very impactful, whether they be funny or emotionally impactful to where this person seems very inspirational or clever. These funny or emotional words/thoughts can never be verified outside of Person A relaying these words or the girlfriend/spouse speaking publicly in a way that makes it impossible to determine who is really speaking though.

Sounds like Manti Te'o, right? Wrong. I was talking about Bill Simmons' wife, which you probably figured out at Point #1 above, but I am still pretending like I am surprising you. My question, does The Sports Gal exist? Did the man who created "The Tyson Zone" create it as a inside joke to himself about how crazy and unpredictable he can be? So there's my question, what if Bill Simmons has been Te'oing us all along?

Within 24 hours, I was password-protecting my BlackBerry and throwing out all my Ambien. Just kidding.

Just for the Sports Gal's own piece of mind, there are probably 20 men who would sleep with Bill Simmons before a single woman would. I state this based completely on the type of mail he answers from his readers. They are predominantly men and (how do I say this politely?), seem like they would be a 12-pack of Miller Lite away from taking their email worship to a more physical form of worship.

So for Manti's Catfish Hoax to surpass Tiger's Thanksgiving, we definitely need a few more twists and turns. Am I ruling out a few more twists and turns? NO!!!!!!! That's why this story entered the Tyson Zone so quickly.

So this story is in the Tyson Zone because of the events that haven't happened yet? Doesn't this go against the idea of a story being in the Tyson Zone? The Tyson Zone is based on the idea events in a story have been so crazy that based on everything that has happened, nearly anything could happen. The Tyson Zone isn't based on the idea potential events could be so crazy based on events that haven't happened yet, is it? This Te'o story can't be in the Tyson Zone if the twists and turns that would put it in the Tyson Zone hasn't happened yet. My head hurts.

Can you remember anyone inadvertently benefiting from a sports scandal more than the guys from Catfish? They parlayed a contrived indie movie (by the way, I enjoyed it) into an even more contrived MTV series (by the way, I enjoy it),

Oh yes, this is a reminder that Bill Simmons still watches MTV. I'm pretty sure at this point even those people who work for MTV don't watch MTV.

Q: Is this the strangest sports story of all time?
—Trevin, Fort Worth, TX

SG: The short answer: No. If only because the whole saga was so elaborately convoluted from start to finish that this was either (a) a phenomenal hoax pulled off on someone who was phenomenally naive; (b) a snowball-type story in which Te'o got catfished, found out in the August-September range, then decided to keep embellishing the story and making things worse over just coming clean; (c) the handiwork of one of the greatest pathological liars who ever lived, and someone who was involved in the hoax the whole time; or (d) the workings of a closeted football star who invented a fake girlfriend to throw everyone off the scent,

So Bill is speculating that Manti Te'o is gay and didn't think it would become such a big story. File that away for a minute.

never imagining that his career and team would take off, and that the ensuing level of scrutiny ended up trapping him within this spiderweb of lies that just kept getting worse and worse.

I vividly remember Te'o's recruitment to Notre Dame and how it was between Notre Dame and USC. Te'o was a huge recruit for the Irish, was the biggest "name" on this year's team even at the beginning of the year and every game Notre Dame plays appears on national television. I find it hard to believe Te'o would be surprised by the amount of scrutiny the story received, especially since he announced her death repeatedly on national television.

Q: If this turns out to be a cover up for Manti Te'o being gay, wouldn't it become one of the defining stories of our generation? It will show the pressure on the big man on campus to conform to rules put on him by his school and his faith all to the potential detriment to his professional career. If it plays out that way, hopefully his story will be a rallying cry for all the people afraid to be who they are and will go on inspire people from all walks of life to be comfortable in themselves.
—Christian P., Rochester, NY

 SG: Totally agree. I hate speculating on someone's sexuality,

Yes, Bill hates speculating on someone's sexuality. From the previous question:

or (d) the workings of a closeted football star who invented a fake girlfriend to throw everyone off the scent, never imagining that his career and team would take off, and that the ensuing level of scrutiny ended up trapping him within this spiderweb of lies that just kept getting worse and worse.

Yes, Bill hates commenting on someone's sexuality, which is why he did it without prompting in the previous question. There's nothing wrong with bringing up this question, but don't say you don't like speculating on a person's sexuality after previously speculating on a person's sexuality without prompting.

Only by admitting he's gay (if that were true) could everything that just happened to Manti Te'o seem, for lack of a better word, a little more normal. Most people would immediately feel terrible for him. Maybe he'd still get skewered by some less tolerant folks, but he'd also immediately become an icon in the gay community.

It wouldn't be any more normal if it turns out Manti Te'o was covering up for being gay. I think it would be less normal than just living his life and trying to keep his sexuality a secret. If anything, making a public showing of your dead girlfriend would only bring more scrutiny to Te'o's personal life, and therefore his sexuality. It would be more normal if Te'o tried to hide his sexuality by simply hiding it rather than creating an elaborate story to throw people off the trail of his sexuality. Not that everyone thinks logically like this of course.

I never thought of that wrinkle, though — Manti pretending he's gay because it's his only way out of this scandal? How long would he have to pretend? The rest of his life? Through the end of his playing career? This has all the makings of becoming the single worst romantic comedy ever made — it's like Jennifer Aniston lying about being engaged to Jay Mohr in Picture Perfect crossed with Al Pacino in Cruising, only if you threw in a healthy dash of Rudy, too. By the way, my wife would totally watch this movie.

Yes, Bill. Your "wife" would certainly enjoy watching this movie...because she exists and all. Being a real human being with real human feelings and girl parts, she would love to watch this romantic comedy. Women, just like your real live wife is a woman, love movies about people feeling in love. This is totally a girl-thing to do and your wife would love it because (a) she is real and (b) she is a woman.

Q: This mind-blowing Manti Te'o revelation deserves to be immortalized at the very least as an Urban Dictionary Entry. What about the phrase "Lennay Kekua'ed" for "simply didn't exist?"
—Jake, Milwaukee

Good idea, Jake from Milwaukee. (Not shockingly) Bill has a slight improvement on your idea though.

SG: Or, you go with "Lennay Kekua" for any situation when a friend/coworker/family member keeps talking about some significant other that nobody has ever met, and after awhile, you end up whispering to someone, "You getting a whiff of Lennay Kekua here or is it just me?"

With any luck this phrase won't catch on. So basically Bill took away the "'ed" at the end of "Kekua'ed" and tried to pass it off as a new idea. Really, Bill's suggestion is the exact same as Jake's suggestion. Bill is using the phrase in a different, much more hilarious and creative context and didn't just change the joke by 1%.

Q: Where does this Manti Te'o story go next?
—Alfredo, San Diego, CA

SG: Remember when Elton John remade the lyrics to "Candle in the Wind" for Princess Diana? Your move, Barry Manilow.

I hate to be the guy who points this out, but "Manti" doesn't sound like "Mandy." They are pronounced differently. Barry Manilow could still do the song, but the names don't rhyme.

Q: Has there ever been a better SportsCenter headline than "BREAKING NEWS: MANTI TE'O'S GIRLFRIEND DID NOT EXIST"? The only other one that comes to mind for me is when the anchors repeatedly had to say "Purple Drank" and "sizzurp" during the Jamarcus Russell story. And how does ESPN determine what gets the "Breaking News" tag? Why didn't we see "Breaking News: Rex Ryan has a foot fetish" or "Breaking News: LaLa Anthony might taste like Honey Nut Cheerios"? I think ESPN needs to put you in charge of this.
—Nick, Atlanta

See, this is what Bill's readers are here for. They are here to pump up Bill's ego and tell him that he could do a better job than the current person doing that job. This is how Bill gets it in his head that he can be an NBA General Manager. Bill loves the idea he is smarter than everyone else, so to be told by his SimmonsClones he needs to be in charge of something at ESPN only strikes him as confirmation of what his ego already knew.

SG: Shouldn't we tweak that to something a little different, like "BREAKING WTF: MANTI TE'O'S GIRLFRIEND DID NOT EXIST"?

No, no, no, ESPN should not do this.

Q: You always joke about the best events that would have overwhelmed social media had social media existed when the event originally happened (i.e., Tonya Harding, OJ). Does the Te'o story make the top 5?
—Dave, Indianapolis

SG: Hell yeah. That's the first time we have ever watched a legitimately bonkers sports scandal blow up on the Internet in real time.

We were preparing for our NBA pregame show on Wednesday when the story broke on Deadspin.

This serves as a little reminder that Bill does an NBA pregame show for ESPN, just in case you forgot that he did an NBA pregame show for ESPN, with Jalen Rose, Mike Wilbon and Magic Johnson. People know him and his books all smell of rich mahogany. Like I have said before when Bill names the celebrity he was watching a sporting event with, he can't simply say he was watching the sporting event because he has to name-drop to tell us exactly with who he was watching this event...even if this information isn't important to the story at all.

I had my BlackBerry on "vibrate" — within about 10 minutes, it started to feel like I had inadvertently shoved a vibrator in my pocket.

Which Bill knows from first-hand experience?

Q: My best friend's sister's boyfriend's brother's girlfriend heard from this guy who knows this kid who's going with the girl who saw Manti Te'o's girlfriend pass out at 31 Flavors last night. I guess it's pretty serious … How would you handle this Manti Te'o situation if you were sports czar??? My solution: I think we should have an NFL franchise for misfits only. The only condition being is that Tebow is the starting QB. Oh wait, we already have the Jets.
—Mateo Q, Mayaguez, Puerto Rico

SG: Hands down, that's the funniest e-mail I've ever gotten from Mayaguez, Puerto Rico.

We all know Bill only published this email because it had a reference to him being "the sports czar." Bill can't fool me.

Q: You have established the Levels of Losing. This whole Manti Te'o thing has got me thinking of the Levels of Indefensibly Defending Sports Figures. There has to be a certain level to where you can't defend your favorite stars without coming off as a pathetic, nonsensical fan.
—Joe, Syracuse

SG: Come on, you barely need any tweaking! You were right there! Fine, I'll help. You should have gone with six levels (you missed one).

Step 1: Take a reader's idea and say it is good, but needs "improvement."

Step 2: Improve the reader's idea by 10%.

Step 3: The idea is now Bill Simmons' idea.

Step 4: He presents to us more stupid levels of something related to this idea.

Level 1: Reserved for harmless stuff — like Boston fans defending Kevin Garnett every time he acts like a bully or an a-hole 

Level 2: A blown-out version of the first level — the stakes are a little higher only because there's a little more of that hits-too-close-to-home sensitivity.

You mean like when Celtics fans defend Kevin Garnett when he makes jokes about being a cancer patient to Charlie Villanueva? Or when Garnett yells at ball boys? How about Celtics fans defending him when he is well-known to hit other players in the crotch? Of course Celtics fan Bill Simmons thinks this is harmless stuff, but it seems like two of these three hit-too-close-to-home sensitivity and should be in Level 2.

Like how Ravens fans fly off the handle every time someone jokes about Ray Lewis's incident from 2000. Yes, you could throw Kobe and the Lakers fans in here. As well as Red Sox fans post-2004 right after any steroids joke about Manny or Papi.

Bill puts defending steroid users as Level 5 on this list. I guess the difference he sees is the level of defending the steroid user.

Level 5: Anyone defending baseball cheaters (Bonds, Clemens, McGwire, etc.) with the always hilarious "We don't know for sure" defense or the equally hilarious "Come on, everyone was cheating, any competitive person would have done what they did" defense. All PED defenses go here.

All PED defenses go here, unless they go in Level 2. If they go in Level 2, then they aren't in Level 5. You may wonder what the difference in a Level 2 PED defense and a Level 5 PED defense...well, Bill is making this up as he goes along so just stop asking questions.

So does everyone defending Lance Armstrong's last two decades of lying/cheating/bullying/threatening/intimidating because "he did some real good, too."

There are those like me who can compartmentalize. I think Lance Armstrong the rider is a dipshit bully who deserves all the nasty shit coming to him. I think Lance Armstrong the cancer fighter did a lot of good for cancer research, but I do realize he was a dipshit.

Q: [What] would be the craziest possible ending to the Manti Te'o story?
—Greg, Philly

SG: Bill Belichick spending the past few years creating Manti's fake dead girl, then hiring someone to play her on the phone, with the ultimate intent of wounding Manti's draft stock enough that he'd fall to the bottom of the first round of the 2013 draft … right to the New England Patriots.

The craziest ending to this story would involve Te'o being a New England Patriot. Of course this is the craziest ending possible.

I do have to say this all-Te'o mailbag wasn't as bad as the Chuck Klosterman-Malcolm Gladwell email conversation about this story. I quit reading it after the first exchange. If the rest of the column is any indication, maybe they should have been lazy and let their readers write questions about Te'o to them in a mailbag.


JR Ewing Theory said...

I'll give him some credit, his photo diary of the Celtics-Knicks game was pretty entertaining.

Bengoodfella said...

JR, I found it to be an incredibly embarrassing column and proof he has run dry on column ideas. It's living proof that Bill Simmons has nothing left to write about in his columns.

That's my opinion...and yes, I am doing a post on the least as much of a post as I can do about a column with pictures.

Anonymous said...

I was hoping you didn't skip this one. You could have because you've been cranking it out lately . . . anyway thanks for these gems:

. . . but anyone who pays attention can't help but notice he tends to stop writing about his favorite teams when they aren't contenders for that respective sport's championship - Bill is so not the voice of Boston sports fans -

As always, I somewhat sense this is a lie - I think he writes every one of these. Does Bill allow any fan contact? Does he want us to believe he reads those emails from the comment-less, Grantland?

SG: You're right — I am the best person to confirm this list. I don't know what that says about me, but you came to the right place.

When I read this I could almost hear you gag in Boston. Is this clown serious? I can't continue with the long post quoting all your good shit because I'd rather just enjoy it. Thanks as always @BigCityJob

rich said...

The Falcons might give Atlanta its first asterisk-free championship ever

Coming from a fucking Patriots fan this is hilarious.

That Atlanta championship was as legit as they come, regardless of how long the regular season was. That was an excellent team.

SG: Hell yeah. That's the first time we have ever watched a legitimately bonkers sports scandal blow up on the Internet in real time.

Didn't he literally just talk about Tiger Woods' like 30 seconds before this? Guess I don't remember the internet being that new.

Keep fighting the good fight Ben.

Bengoodfella said...

Glad you like it. I think one time they tried comments on his articles and it went downhill quickly. Bill has a Facebook page where you can comment on his articles. He's a man of the people, who doesn't encourage interaction with the people.

It took me a bit to get to this one, but he's been cranking out the mailbags recently and those are my least favorite Simmons columns.

Rich, that was a good Braves team. I think the '96 version was better honestly, but I don't want to talk about it anymore.

I know it is my favorite baseball team, but I don't see the point of having an asterisk that season. Baseball still has a long season, so it isn't like only 60% of the season was played. Plus, it leads to good jokes about how the Braves only won the World Series because it was a short season and didn't realize it was the playoffs yet where they were supposed to choke.

Bill said that Twitter was too young for that to blow up real time. I think I was on Twitter at that point and I was very late to the game, so I don't know if I buy that.

jacktotherack said...

I can't even believe I'm going to type this, but wouldn't the Sandusky case and the OJ murders fit into "The Tyson Zone"? How about Vick's dog-fighting ring?? Simmons is so fucking stupid he can't even keep track of how many stories fit iwithin his bullshit made up list.

Bengoodfella said...

Jack, I don't know Bill's criteria but I am guessing he thinks the OJ trial was too long ago to fit into the "Tyson Zone." Bill loves drama and I am also guessing that he wouldn't think the Sandusky and Vick dog-fighting ring had enough drama and twists and turns to fit into the "Tyson Zone." Also, he completely makes things up and his lists aren't even close to being all-inclusive.

I would put the Sandusky case as part of the "Tyson Zone" for sure. It involved one of the greatest college football coaches of all-time essentially being disowned in some ways by a university that revered him previously.

JR Ewing Theory said...

Ben, let me be clear: "Entertaining" is not always synonymous with "Quality". Think of a good episode of "Two and a Half Men.": A bunch of good laughs, utterly forgettable, still miles behind "It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia".

And by that I meant Charlie Sheen-era. I've watched ten minutes of post-Sheen and...well, it was awful. I'll just leave it at that.

Bengoodfella said...

JR, NO! You said you liked Bill Simmons. There is a black mark on your soul forever! I am not sure I've watched more than 10 minutes of one "Two and a Half Men," but I am a "Sunny" veteran so I have to say a lot of things are miles behind that show.

Simmons' column was entertaining. I was mostly entertained because it seemed somewhat sad to me.