Thursday, December 18, 2014

10 comments Bill Simmons Still Doing Friday Mailbags; Still Requiring Reader Participation to Churn a Column Out

I used to complain that Bill Simmons did too many mailbags that were lazy excuses for not writing a column. It's gotten to the point now that Bill's mailbags ARE his columns. Bill's Friday NFL picks column is pretty just a mailbag with some YouTube clips thrown in there. Take a look at Bill's column archives. The number of mailbags in there is endless. That's the current state of Bill's writing. Maybe when he goes to work for another company then he will be more inspired to write. Probably not. Not when he has readers voracious to appear in his mailbag and crave his acceptance. Why go out of his comfort zone when coasting gets the job done and ensures the happiness of Bill's readers? As usual, I will be making fun of some of Bill's readers too because I'm just mean like that, and most likely, they don't exist anyway. Not that Bill would make up questions of course.

We split Friday’s column into two parts. If you missed my piece about Chainsaw Dan Snyder and the Deadskins, click here. Here are the Week 15 picks.

And yes, after complaining that Bill didn't write columns, I will acknowledge he did write a column on Daniel Snyder. He included five comments from readers that he basically bounced the entire column off of, so I'm not quite giving him credit for that yet. He still can't seem to put out a column where his readers don't contribute in some way.

RAMS (-5.5) over Cards

I stand by this now-ridiculous pick. The Cards scored 12 points and played Ryan Lindley for 30 percent of the game — what more could you want? Way to kick a field goal down nine on fourth-and-goal from the 2 with six minutes left, Jeff Fisher. No wonder you haven’t won a playoff game in 11 years.

Well, he is Jeff "8-8" Fisher. I'm glad others are noticing that Fisher might be a little bit overrated as a coach, though it does not make me happy that person noticing is Bill Simmons. I'm sure Simmons will write an entire column about Fisher and claim to be the first person who noticed just how average to mediocre Fisher has been for the last decade or so. At that point, my blood will boil and I will die.

Anyway, the Cards have scored 64 points total in their last five games, so Vegas is currently insulting them with 20-to-1 Super Bowl odds. Repeat: An 11-3 team has 20-1 Super Bowl odds. That’s the best “Nobody Believes In Us” factoid in a couple of years. Remember, the Cardinals ARE undefeated at home. And they ARE a Week 16 home victory over Seattle and a Week 17 road victory over the floundering 49ers away from NEVER LEAVING ARIZONA FOR THE ENTIRE PLAYOFFS. So why wouldn’t you throw down $100 on the Cards at 20-to-1?

Bill Simmons, gambling savant who isn't a gambling savant, yet pretends like he knows something about gambling few else know.

Q: WE WANT FAVRE! WE WANT FAVRE! WE WANT FAVRE! WE WANT FAVRE! Why not go for it if your Arizona GM Steve Keim? You know you aren’t getting anywhere in the playoffs with a hobbled Drew Stanton or Ryan Lindley. Hopeful President Elect Bruce Arians needs to show his power if he wants the Democratic nomination come 2016. Bring back Favre. Call up Ed Werder right now.

—Jackson, Glendale, AZ

BS: Oh wait, THAT is why the Cards are 20-1. Because I read that email and thought, He’s right, they should totally sign Brett Favre.

Nope, that's a sign you are being an idiot.

Q: The final act of your “4th & God” movie is ready to be written! (And you know Roger Goodell would LOVE for ESPN to focus on the wholesome Tim Tebow and not anything else from the past 12 months). Tim Tebow, out of football and humbled by taking a TV job gets the call from Kurt Warner (the original inspiration for the don’t bet against God & Puppies theory) to tell him to do the job he couldn’t finish. That’s right, take the playoff bound Arizona Cardinals to a Super Bowl Victory. This is the chills moment of the movie!

—Ron Wade, Plymouth Township

I really feel bad for people who write into Bill and want to interact with him or share their super-original thoughts with him. It makes me feel bad for them craving his acceptance and idolizing him so much.

Q: Do you think JJ Watt ever does that cat interview? Yeah, better bring that Thunderdome line up against Gronk. Watt -5000.  

—Justin, Houston

BS: (Belichick voice.) We’re on to Miami.

Bill has five questions where he answers them "We're on to Miami." Five questions and they aren't short either. The man is just killing space in this column.

Q: What’s the over/under for number of kittens Gronk accidentally murdered Lenny-style during that espnmag photohoot? My friends and I guessed anywhere from 7 to “so many that they ran out and had to photoshop some in,” but we’d love your input, too.

—Cara, Weymouth, MA

BS: (Belichick voice.) We’re on to Miami.

See, it gets funnier every time!

Q: Have you noticed that Ryan Tannehill and Alex Smith are essentially the same player? If you watched the Dolphins-Ravens game, you saw one of the worst secondaries in the NFL completely unafraid that Ryan Tannehill could beat them downfield and jumping every short and intermediate passing route. Remind you of anyone? I can’t wait for the Dolphins to lock Tannehill up for the next 10 years so we can waste away in mediocrity. 19th pick in the draft, here we come!

—Justin, Miami

Have you noticed this isn't a very good comparison? Alex Smith's career record for passing yards in a season is 3,313 yards, while Tannehill has more than that in two of his first three seasons, only missing by 19 yards during his rookie season from tying Smith's career high. Tannehill has 22 TD passes this year (24 last year) and Smith has passed 20 TD's just once in his career. But in truth, yards per completion and yards per pass attempt show that Tannehill dinks and dunks the ball around the field. I don't know though, I don't see the Alex Smith comparison. It seems like Tannehill is much better at dinking and dunking, maybe it's because he throws the ball more so his numbers are better than Smith's. Of course, Smith has Jamaal Charles and a decent offensive line, while Ryan Tannehill does not have Jamaal Charles and hasn't had very good offensive lines. It's hard to throw the ball downfield when you don't have time to throw the ball downfield.

So I reject Tannehill as Alex Smith, due to Tannehill not having the same offensive line and running game that Smith has.

Steelers (-2) over FALCONS

Everything you need to know about the pass-friendly rules in 2014: This is Ben Roethlisberger’s 11th NFL season. He’s 32 years old. He has thrown for 4,000 yards only four times, and he has topped 30 touchdown passes only once. He’s never come within 670 yards of a 5,000-yard season, and he’s never thrown 33 TD passes. This season, he’s on pace to come within a hair of 5,000 yards and throw 36 TDs … and that’s without including this Sunday’s “I’m playing Atlanta’s atrocious defense!!!” bump.

While Bill has a point here about pass-friendly rules, it also helps that Roethlisberger has his best pass-catching running back and maybe his best receiver on the same team at the same time. Antonio Brown and Le'Veon Bell are on pace to put up about 2,600 yards between them. Throw in the reliable Heath Miller and the investment in Wheaton and Bryant, then you can see why Roethlisberger has become more successful throwing the football this year. Bill has a point, but Roethlisberger's yardage isn't chalked up entirely to the pass-friendly rules.

Q: Aren’t you intrigued by the potential of a Mike Smith-Jim Caldwell rematch in Round One?

BS: If Smith-Caldwell happens, Jalen and I might have to do a special Grantland Live postgame studio show on the Grantland Network just to rehash what happened.

That's just a brief, ever-not-subtle plug for Grantland Network and "Grantland Live" from Bill Simmons. He has to pimp Grantland's other material in his column in some fashion. Synergy is important, especially when given the chance to use his readers as a way to spin off other Grantland products.

Jalen, were you surprised when you kicked a field goal down four with three seconds left?

Sadly, many sad and lonely people would listen to this "Grantland Live" to hear Jalen Rose and Bill Simmons discuss this topic.

Deadskins (+7) over GIANTS Raiders (+10) over CHIEFS Bucs (+3.5) over PANTHERS
Not even Cam Newton’s Ewing Theory potential can get me excited about any of these three games.

Well, then definitely ignore them. I know these games don't have the drama that a Patriots-Dolphins matchup has. That's some super-intriguing football right there.

Q: You called this year’s Chiefs the worst WR crew of this century. Don’t the 2009 Browns hold that title? Leading WR: Mohamed Massaquoi: 34 rec, 624 yards, 3 TDs. Second WR: Chansi Stuckey: 19 rec, 198 yards, 1 TD. It only gets worse. Check it out.

—Matt G., Cleveland BS: And they had Brady Quinn and Derek Anderson throwing it to them!

Hey, watch the Derek Anderson comments. He's 2-0 this year. The best part is Brady Quinn called the Bucs-Panthers game on Sunday and I couldn't help but think of that 2009 Browns team. I would bet that Brady Quinn was sitting in the broadcast booth just thinking about how if Derek Anderson can be a backup quarterback that maybe he himself should give a comeback a try.

Yet another reason I am rooting for Johnny Football to work out. Come on, Johnny! The world is more fun when you‘re playing football well. It’s just a fact. My Not-Quite-An-Upset Special: Browns 30, Bengals 10.

Or not.

Texans (+7) over COLTS
And here’s your legitimate Upset Special: Texans 30, Colts 24, J.J. Watt MVP Campaign +1.

This is the legitimate Upset Special, not to be confused with the Not-Quite-An-Upset Special of course. Either way, neither one worked out. By the way, Bill was 75-75-1 going into this week. So he basically would have been better off simply not making picks or throwing darts at a dartboard, yet he constantly pushes his "gambling theories" on readers based on rules he made up that only pertain to this specific NFL season.

Q: You missed the mark in your Week 15 column. An action flick starring JJ Watt has to be called Mega Watt. Seriously, ESPN pays you for this?

—RK, Washington DC

BS: I didn’t miss the mark! Hollywood never comes up with the right title for an action movie; it’s always 30 percent off and it never totally achieves its potential. Mega Watt was the obvious pick. But Hollywood would have screwed it up and gone with Power Wattage. Here, I’ll let Scott Rudin and Amy Pascal explain in this recently hacked email exchange.

After reading this fake exchange between Rudin and Pascal, I can't imagine why Bill Simmons didn't stick around on Jimmy Kimmel's show as one of his writers. I mean, this is just some hilarious shit.

RUDIN: Did you read the Simmons column? I liked his idea for the J.J. Watt action movie.
PASCAL: I don’t know who Simmons is. Gene Simmons?
RUDIN: Bill Simmons? You’re seriously a studio executive and you don’t read Grantland?

The "seriously" should be behind the word "you" not "You're" me thinks.

Yes, the guy whose grammar and sentence structure is a partial birth abortion of the English language just corrected someone's grammar and sentence structure. Let's not focus on my issues, but instead on Bill's mistakes.

PASCAL: Don’t talk to me that way!

RUDIN: Next time you send me an email with an exclamation point, I will ram it down your throat.
PASCAL: Don’t you fucking threaten me!

RUDIN: You are the dumbest person in Hollywood! YOU COULDN’T MAKE A CUP OF COFFEE!!!
PASCAL: Why r u punishing me?

Are you entertained by this? Great. That's the sum total of Bill's little skit. I'm still waiting for the punchline. Of course, knowing Bill this whole skit is probably just some inside Hollywood talk that is intended for him and about 10 other people who read his columns. Bill would swing his dick around like that and make an inside joke in his column read by thousands, when only 10 people would get the joke. I can't imagine why he's still not writing punchlines for Kimmel.

Q: A useful tiebreaker for an MVP vote with no runaway candidate: who would we want to get the inevitable invitation to host SNL after the season?

Two things:

1. This is a dumb idea. Or as Bill would write it, this is "legitimately" a dumb idea. Which of course means that Bill is going to love this idea.

2. The "inevitable" invitation to host "SNL"? Here is a list of NFL MVP's. How many have hosted "SNL" again? There is Eli and Peyton and then...ummm...there is Tom Brady. So yeah, "it's an inevitable invitation" that only a few MVP's have received.

Is there anyone you’d rather see than J.J. Watt or Aaron Rodgers?

Steve Smith. I think he would be fun. Rob Gronkowski.

BS: I love this wrinkle.

Of course you do. It's an idea where a sports award will be chosen based on that player's ability to be a part of pop culture. It's a mix of everything ridiculous and inane about Bill's ideas.

Every year, the NFL MVP has to be a REALISTIC choice to host SNL right after the Super Bowl. (That means we’re down to a three-team race: Watt, Rodgers and Gronk.)

I guess Tom Brady isn't in the MVP race then. After all, he has already hosted "SNL" so he wouldn't be a logical choice.

BILLS (+6) over Packers

It’s too much of an Aaron Rodgers love-fest right now. Even Grantland’s Robert Mays, a die-hard Bears fan, did everything short of reenacting Scotty J.’s “Can I kiss you on the mouth?” scene from Boogie Nights when he discussed Rodgers in the office yesterday.

Oh, a "Boogie Nights" reference...

Isn’t he due to get banged around by an excellent defense in cold weather for four quarters, get sacked a few times, throw a tipped pick or two, maybe even fumble a shotgun snap?

Bill nailed this pick. While remembering he nailed this one, keep in mind that both of his upset specials didn't end up working out and he was .500 for the year when writing this column.

RAVENS (-14) over Jaguars

Q: Based on your criteria for LVU (“Least Valuable Unit”), shouldn’t 2014’s winner be the Ravens secondary? Keep in mind they’re solid front 7 — how good would this team be with an average secondary, especially at the end of games? If not for their secondary, they’d be sitting at 9-3, leading the division and fighting for a bye. Instead they’re fighting to make the playoffs.

—Sam, Boulder

You mean the Ravens secondary that just put it's 5th DB on Injured Reserve this season? That LVU? How would the Broncos do if they had lost five DB's this season? How would any NFL team do if they had lost so many members of the secondary? So let's worry more about getting informed and worry less about writing "if not for their secondary..." in an effort to get in Bill's mailbag and justify your existence by writing about LVU's.

BS: I’m still backing Kansas City’s receivers. When you’re running four-yard outs in a one-minute drill situation down by three in a must-win game, you know your receivers are an out-and-out travesty. Besides, Baltimore’s secondary might not come back to haunt the Ravens until Round 2! They finish the season with Blake Bortles, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Johnny Manziel — none of those guys is torching them. If they win the AFC North, they’re hosting a no. 5 seed or a no. 6 seed in Round 1 — that’s either Phil Rivers (trouble),

Really? No mention of the injuries to the Ravens' secondary? I think this merits a huge mention, but whatever. It's not like Bill should write a weekly NFL picks column and actually be informed about the games he is picking. Also, it's not "Phil Rivers." That's just dumb sounding.

Q: Jim Nantz just previewed next week’s Thursday night game between the Jags and Titans and Phil Simms responded with “I’m really looking forward to it.” No laughter, he seemed dead serious.

—Mike, Santa Monica

BS: That’s reason no. 547 why CBS needs to demote Simms next spring and replace him with Rex Ryan. Sports fans should be allowed to vote every year on secretly important things like “Who’s our no. 1 NFL color analyst for the three major networks?” If that CBS vote were “Rex or Simms,” I think Rex carries 96.7 percent of the vote. But major networks and local cable networks are abjectly terrified of ever demoting a lead play-by-play or color announcer.

Part of the reason networks don't do this is because of silly little things like contracts and the fact the public is fickle and would just vote out whatever announcer they just voted for the previous year. Phil Simms gets paid like the #1 color analyst for CBS. If Rex Ryan is promoted to that spot then he is going to want to be paid like the #1 color analyst for CBS. These guys don't work on year-to-year contracts, so at some point CBS would be paying 2-3 guys to be the #1 color analyst for them. That's one reason they don't do this. I would think that someone who has worked in television could understand this.

CHARGERS (+4.5) over Broncos

According to Mike Sando, only Brian Hoyer (nine) and Andy Dalton (nine) have thrown more picks than Peyton Manning (eight) since Week 9. Also, this feels like a cross between a Kitchen Sink Game and a Phil Rivers Doing Phil Rivers Stuff Game for the Chargers 

What's with the "Phil Rivers" thing?

… and if you’re the Broncos, do you REALLY need this game? Aren’t they locked into a no. 2 seed? 

Yes, because if there is anything that the public knows about Peyton Manning it's that he will intentionally not try hard to win a football game because he already has the no. 2 seed locked up in the AFC. Besides the fact that Bill's prediction ended up being wrong, does Bill really think the Broncos would just not try to win this game?

Q: You made a “Worst coach to appear in the Superbowl” list without Jim Caldwell? I am giving you the Jim Caldwell/Art Shell look right now.

—Ryan Jacobs, Nashville
BS: I had to cross him off because he’s nine games over .500 for his career (35-26). Believe me … it hurt.

You can still put him on the list if you would like. Don't let his career record stop you from doing this.

Q: I can’t believe you ran a mailbag answer looking at the worst coaches to make a Super Bowl and didn’t mention Jim Caldwell. People legitimately wondered if the Colts had installed a mannequin on the sidelines. 

One of the annoying trends that I blame Bill Simmons for is the use of "legitimate" in situations where it is not at all required. Of course, Bill's lemming readers start doing this as well. People didn't just "wonder" if the Colts installed a mannequin on the sidelines (how do you install a mannequin? Can't you just place a mannequin on the sidelines with no installation necessary?), they "legitimately wondered" if the Colts installed a mannequin. If you know the difference, then you are a much smarter person than me.

BS: Looks like the perfect time to break out Week 15’s Shakey’s Pizza Watch:...RG3 unexpectedly turning into the MGMT of football (great debut album, and then the wheels came off);

This is a forced reference, and much like a joke that needs to be explained, if Bill has to explain the reference then it's not a good reference. The point of saying RG3 is "the MGMT of football" is to avoid saying "RG3 had a great debut but then the wheels came off." Naturally, Bill uses the reference and then explains it. It's legitimately counterproductive to use the reference and then explain it, as well as legitimately ruins the purpose of using the reference in the first place.

Goodell’s now-documented performance during the Rice appeal hearing; the fact that we have to carefully write headlines like “Transcript shows inconsistencies in Goodell’s testimony on Rice matter.”

When Bill leaves ESPN, the first thing he publishes is his column about Roger Goodell. I know it's written already, he just has to publish it.

SEAHAWKS (-10) over 49ers

They can’t make that Seahawks line high enough. Kaepernick is a broken man — even Mischa Barton didn’t flame out this fast.

See? While this is a Mischa Barton reference, it's a reference that doesn't require an explanation. This is legitimately how it is supposed to work when making a reference.

Q: What would be more fun: Harbaugh going to Oakland, making a beast out of Carr (who’s been really promising) and taking the Raiders to the playoffs? Or him going to the Jets, drafting Mariota and laying waste to the AFC East?

—Ibrahim, João Pessoa, Brazil

Harbaugh isn't laying waste to the AFC East with Brady and Belichick still alive and working for the Patriots.

BS: What about Harbaugh going to Michigan just a few weeks after there was so much action on a “Harbaugh goes to Michigan bet” that a gambling site actually had to PULL THAT BET?

They pulled the bet not just because there was so much action on Harbaugh going to Michigan, but because they were afraid someone had insider information and was making that bet. So it was as much about insider information as it was about Harbaugh going to Michigan being a real thing that could happen.

Saints (-3) over BEARS

Q: You mentioned Bill Simmons Road in your last column, which made me giggle uncontrollably in the middle of class, leading my professor to stare awkwardly as I played it off.

You are a very sad person if this is true. How did you play giggling uncontrollably in the middle of the class off?

"Oh no professor, I wasn't laughing at you, but I have daddy issues and I need a 40+ year old man to be my role model in life so I read Bill Simmons' column every week in the hopes that one day he will answer one of my emails and justify my existence. I was just laughing at something he wrote because he's the cool dad that I have always wanted to have in my life."

As a longtime resident of Colleyville, TX I can honestly say that Bill Simmons Road gets little traffic. It’s one of the few roads in town where there are no streetlights and houses are spread far apart, which made it an incredibly convenient place to get down with girls in the backseat of my car when I was in high school.

If you laugh uncontrollably in the middle of the class at something Bill Simmons has written then the odds of you getting down in the backseat of a car in any form other than dancing with a girl who has you in the friend zone in the back of a pickup truck are not high. Not trying to be rude, just a little realistic. Plus, given that I'm not sure Bill's reader questions come from real people, I'm guessing Timothy from Colleyville isn't a real person. I've just been mean to a figment of Bill's imagination.

In fact, many a sexscapade was had on Bill Simmons road by my friends, classmates, and other town residents. Congratulations on sharing that legacy. Come visit Bill Simmons Road sometime, although I suggest seeing it during the daytime in order to avoid seeing more than you bargained for.

–Timmy J., Colleyville

I shouldn't be mean to someone I don't know. I just feel pity. It's odd to hear a grown person idolize a middle-aged sportswriter as much as some of Bill's lemmings idolize him. Why write in to Bill and talk about this? Other than to be in his mailbag of course.

BS: Good Lord, we’re in range.

Bill has been using the same joke at the end of every mailbag (which means lately it's been at the end of everything Bill writes) for the last 15 years now and in no way is that pathetic.

Q: Just wanted to let you know that every Tuesday and Thursday evening of my junior year in high school I would drive my car to the top of the hill on Bill Simmons Road and get some action from my girlfriend.

Okay, slugger. It sounds great to brag about it in an email to a middle-aged man.

(Again, I doubt this guy exists, so I'm being snarky to a figment of Bill's imagination)

I hope for her sake her Dad doesn’t read this column, not like I give a damn though.

—Tanner, Colleyville

Right, because you are a rebel like that. You don't care if her dad reads this column because what's he going to you? You'd be all like, "'Sup bro? You got something you wanna say to me? I 'got action' from your daughter and won't apologize for it. Come get some of me old man who is probably the same age as the guy I just wrote to bragging about getting some action from your daughter."

BS: Yup, these are my readers.

Yes. They are your readers. You make each other look bad sometimes...if they even exist.


HH said...

It's gotten to the point now that Bill's mailbags ARE his columns.

That's strange. He's usually so shy and tries to avoid the attention of his admirers.

Anonymous said...

Bill did nail the Buffalo pick, but boy, I think he got almost every other pick wrong. He took the Redskins! And right after he wrote that column about their owner.

But I guess "we" read his columns every week more for the witty humor than the football analysis.

Bengoodfella said...

HH, it's weird isn't it? Bill is so camera shy and the opposite of wanting to be a pop culture icon.

Anon, that's a good point. He raged against Daniel Snyder and then picked the Skins. I didn't even notice that.

If "we" are reading the column for witty humor then "we" are becoming increasingly disappointed.

Chris said...

I don't know how I only noticed this now but Simmons comes across as that parent who wants to be more of a best friend to their kid than an actual parent so he will always nag them about how they are always on the facebook and tweeter, and wondering when you two are gonna go see the new Bernard Cumberbatch film.

Anonymous said...

These mailbags always make me wonder, how do you even send Simmons an email? Well if you go to Grantland and scroll to the bottom, you can click on Contact, and from there they provide a link to send him an email. But the point remains, who's life is so empty and pointless that it needs to be validated in such a way? You really do have to go out of your way to do this, which means you really have to think and plan this out. And so much of it is just Simmons mirroring. "Hey Bill, you make pop culture references and so do I!" It's really sad in its own way.

Eddie said...

Your Simmons columns are what first led me to discover this site, and they're still gold. It's nice to see you shine when he's awful.

Bengoodfella said...

Chris, he very well may that way. He's not super-old or anything like that, but he's definitely still writing like he did 10-15 years ago. It still works I guess. People like him.

Anon, what's interesting is a year or so ago Bill's mailbag broke and he said he wasn't getting his mail delivered to him in a column. Sort of like he doesn't even get the emails, but there is someone who gets the emails and then sends them to him. So you aren't really emailing Bill, but emailing a box that Bill or someone else picks through.

Much of what is done in his mailbags is mirroring. It's sad. And you know some of these people, if they exist, check their inbox or Bill's mailbags all the time to see if he responded.

Eddie, I try. It's gotten harder as he has written less and less real original material that isn't a mailbag. He writes so late on Fridays too, which is very inconvenient for me. My older Simmons columns have more anger in them b/c I didn't realize he had given up at that point.

JBsptfn said...

I love the parts about Bill Simmons Road. That is just the quintessential Simmons lame from him and his readers. I also like the part where you said that they were in the friend zone (because Simmons readers, and Simmons himself, have a lot of experience with that).

Frank said...

The ONLY thing I don't like about your Simmons columns is that you seem to truly believe he makes up certain questions. I honestly think there are enough idiots out there to write the kind of stupid shit that appears in his mailbags that he doesn't have to make any of it up. 6 one way, half dozen the other, I guess :)

Bengoodfella said...

JB, I thought that was quintessential Simmons and his readers too. There's a lot of love shared (one way) in that relationship. He doesn't love them like they think he does.

Frank, I do think he makes up a few, or at the very least, edits them to where they seem more interesting and catchy than they really are.

I prefer not to think there are idiots like this out there. It's my way of trying to make myself feel better that others don't worship Simmons that much.