Why I’m Done with Bill Simmons
In the midst of recovering from a debilitating food-borne illness, my motivation for posting was sapped, along with my will to breathe, eat, and basically do anything other than sleep. However, inspired by what took place yesterday, I realized I needed to give it a shot.
I’ve been a fan of “Pardon the Interruption” since it first debuted in October 2001. It’s an original program, which for a network like ESPN is really saying something. Love him or hate him, I thoroughly enjoy Tony Kornheiser. It’s unfortunate that most people only know him as the Larry David-esque character he’s portrayed the last five years, but before he realized this persona was extremely marketable, he was a legendary sports writer who pioneered modern comedic sports writing as we know it. Don’t believe me? Go back and check out the “Bandwagon” articles from the early 1990′s. His local show on DC’s Sportstalk 980 is the best thing on local radio, bar none. He’s a genius.
Michael Wilbon, on the other hand, is a sportswriter who wears throwback jerseys. That’s all I can really say. His one redeeming quality is that he plays the “young guy” to Kornheiser’s “crusty old guy” well — better than any of the other guest hosts they have on the days Wilbon is out. Tuesday and Wednesday were two of those days. Bill Simmons was your guest host.
I wanted to give Bill Simmons a chance. I wanted to forget about all of the clichéd reasons to dislike him. But when the first line out of his mouth was a comparison between the New Orleans Saints and his “beloved Patriots” I wanted to puke (and not just because there are 500,000 clostridium perfringens lining my stomach). When he took the softball question about Joe Torre and used it to not only mock Torre directly, but to also take cheap shots at George Steinbrenner indirectly, I realized that even though he’s being given a shot at legitimacy beyond ESPN’s Page 2, Simmons just can’t help himself. Bill Simmons has finally become what he used to mock: a self-important hack.
Let me try to explain this as Billy would: see, Simmons’ career is a lot like Pearl Jam’s (Just go with it. If you’ve ever read even one of his columns, this should be easy). Pre-2003 was Simmons’ Ten-era. His writing was refreshing; his pop-culture references were unique because there was no one else out there writing that way. Then he went Hollywood and parlayed his Page 2 gig into a writing job for Jimmy Kimmel. This was the onset of his Bushleaguer period. All of a sudden, he started to believe his own press — maybe the “Ewing Theory” was actually true. Perhaps he really was one of last 20 real NBA fans (a self-anointed title — how no one ever called him on this is ridiculous to me) or he actually did crack the code for successfully betting on NFL games (sure, man, it was a fluke when your wife beat you over the course of an entire season). About the only two things you can take away from a Simmons post these days are:
- “I’m a better sports fan that you.”
- “Boston sports are better/more important/more vital to the fabric of our country than your city’s.”
What was once tongue-in-cheek satire has become biblical prophecy from a guy who no longer lives like the “Billy Sports Fan” persona he built his reputation off of: his columns are peppered with celebrity name-dropping (You mean Gus Johnson has never tried to end a feud between you and a Hall of Fame point guard?) and descriptions of his multi-flat-screened man cave (Who doesn’t have three flat-screen TV’s in their garage?).
So, that’s it for me. I’m officially done with Bill. I guess it was a long-time coming, but the “PTI” debacle seals the deal. He’s officially reached the level of “ignore.” I never thought I’d put him in the same category as Mike Lupica and Jim Caple, but there he is. And I promise this had nothing to do with him ordering girly-drinks at Kellari Taverna Wednesday night. I swear.
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