Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Some jackass wrote a puff piece about Simmons for Rolling Stone, and it's horrible (part 4 of 4)

Quick update before I get going: the NBA draft lottery was tonight, and the Celtics moved down one spot from 5th to 6th.  Bill was on the NBA Countdown set and had to comment on what the ping pong balls did (including giving the Cavs the #1 overall pick for the third time in four years, to which he said "The system is broken and we need a new one;" IT'S NAWT FAY-UH!!!!) just minutes after the coverage of the lottery ended.  It was wonderful.  It was beautiful.  At this point, we can just skip ahead to next Monday.  My week is already made.

Whew.  This article has been exhausting.  What's next?

No sportswriter has ever had as much success as Simmons, 

Perhaps true, although not in the way you want it to be true--Simmons is not a sportswriter.  I will agree, however, that he is richer and possibly more well-known than any sportswriter ever.  If money and exposure are your criteria for success, sure.  But I don't know why we're comparing him to Hunter S. Thompson and Grantland Rice (who did not suck, regardless of what some twat at Deadspin has to say about it) or Joe Posnanski before he went full retard for JoePa a few years ago.  Those guys don't practice the same trade as Bill.

partly because sports is now inseparable from pop culture. 

That is not true, and is something only a dipshit Simmons fanboy would say.

Even if you don't care about football, you know Peyton Manning from his ads for Buick. Or DirecTV. Or Gatorade. 

Yes, it's true.  Prior to Peyton Manning, no athlete has ever endorsed a product or crossed over into the entertainment business.  He's the first guy ever.  Other than OJ, or Bruce Jenner (I'm referring to CHiPs, not his reality work), or Alex Karras, or Kareem, or Shaq, or any of the dozens of others who have acted, not to mention the thousands of others who have pitched products.  Nope.  It's a 21st century phenomenon for sure.

By integrating with television, digital media, and Madison Avenue, sports has shifted from a pastime to a conglomerate: according to Forbes, the four major professional leagues are worth a combined $91.2 billion. 

This has nothing to do with "sports [being] now inseparable from pop culture."  This is because of cable, and more recently TiVo/DVR, which have caused sports TV contracts to go through the roof.  Sports are more commercialized now than they were 25 or 50 or 75 years ago, but that's true with most things in America.  The real reason for the explosion in franchise values and player contracts is TV money, and the reason for the TV money explosion is accessibility and the fact that most people watch sports live.  Don't be fucking dense.

This makes it harder to care about sports — who roots for Comcast, or Chevron? — 

What the fuck are you talking about?  It's harder to get excited about sports because the teams and players have more money?  

but the enthusiasm of Simmons' columns and podcasts return fans to the spirit of the pre-show-me-the-money era.

That could not be further from the truth.  Unless he's discussing a Boston team, Simmons doesn't write or speak about sports, not in the way a sports fan does.  I don't need to return to the pre-Jerry Maguire era.  I'm just old enough to remember what it was like.  It sucked, relative to today's world of sports, where I can watch my team on my phone from anywhere I have a signal.  I could care less how much money is involved.  Sports are fun because they are sports, not because aw shucks these fellas are just like regular guys!  They work in factories in the offseason!  Sports in 2014 kicks the shit out of sports in 1964.  Sorry, old people.

ESPN has both enabled this growth and benefitted from it, and is now worth $50.8 billion, making it the most valuable media brand in the world, according to Forbes, with 7 domestic and 24 international TV networks, radio networks, a weekly magazine and websites. That's a staggering sum for a network that launched in 1979 with a lineup of college soccer, wrestling, and slow-pitch softball.

Look, I'm the first person to admit that Bill has been very successful, but ESPN's meteoric rise, especially during the last ten years, is about 0.1% due to him.  Let's not trip over our dicks trying to give him credit.  In any case, speaking of the early days of ESPN, read Those Guys Have All the Fun (or at least first 300 or so pages) at some point.  Pretty interesting how it all came together, and sad/predictable that the guy who founded it got fucked out of all his potential money by scummy investors.  (To his credit, he's not mad about it.  Seems like a free-spirited kind of guy.)

Tony Kornheiser, a Pulitzer Prize finalist for his sportswriting, 

Tony Kornheiser, a contrarian know-nothing piece of smug human garbage, has somehow almost won a Pulitzer.  That might be even more flabbergasting than Rick Reilly's 15 AP Sportswriter of the Year awards or whatever the fuck he has.

and a host of ESPN's lively Pardon the Interruption, calls this "a Golden Age for sportswriters," though not a Golden Age for sportswriting. 

"Those damn bloggers and their hippity hop music why back in my day only REAL sportswriters were allowed to make up bullshit and pass it off as presentable content blah blah blah condescend condescend condescend"

In spite of all these opportunities — or maybe because of them — sportswriters have never seemed more unhappy. They bicker like Real World cast members, and beef like gangsta rappers in the Nineties. 

Sweet analogies, diddley-dawg.

And Simmons is often in the middle of these tiffs, partly because people only beef up, and partly because Simmons' name guarantees website traffic, especially if he replies.

Simmons is a thin-skinned baby who is incapable of letting anything roll off his back.  He's a fool.  I'm glad he doesn't "beef" more often, because watching his sycophants defend him is the only thing more painful than reading his writing.

Deadspin is to mocking Simmons what Michael Jordan is to basketball, 

Huh?  How often do they pick on him these days?  Deadspin is the Michael Jordan of a lot of things--you might be able to say they're that good at antagonizing sportswriters in general--but I'm pretty sure Simmons isn't exactly high on their list.

so I asked Tommy Craggs, the site's editor, to summarize the case against him. Craggs denounced Simmons' "chuckling, incurious, cleverest-guy-standing-around-the-Phi-Delt-keg writing voice," and dismissed him as "nothing more than a dispenser of dull, honkified conventional wisdom about sports." He also said Simmons had been smart in not hiring Bill-Jr. clones at Grantland, adding that a site full of Simmons-ish prose "would suck."

Craggs is kind of a turd, but I can pretty much co-sign everything said there.

What is it with these guys? They're nearly as bad as Sports Twitter. Charles Pierce of Esquire wrote a snarlish review of Simmons' Book of Basketball (on Deadspin, of course), mocking his frequent digressions into gambling, movies, his friends, and strip clubs, and concluding with the words, "Get the fuck over yourself." This lead to an angry exchange of emails and posts, during which Pierce called Simmons a "mendacious, whiny little thin-skinned bag of breeze." Several months later, Simmons hired Pierce as a staff writer, so presumably, all has been forgiven. Also: Tommy Craggs, Simmons' chief tormenter, was set to take a job at Grantland in 2011, before he shit-talked an ESPN.com writer and the new job fell apart. Why do even Simmons' most severe critics want to work with him?

First of all, let's get a source on that last part.  Could be true but I've never heard it before.  Second of all, I love the idea that because someone thinks Simmons is a dunce (or that ESPN sucks in general), they should never take at Grantland (or ESPN), which comes with what is almost certainly higher pay and an unquestionably awesome support network/platform.  Old media is dying--short of Sports Illustrated, I can't think of a print journalism sportswriting job that sounds glamorous.  If you're going to get a new media job, why not swing with the big boys?  I don't begrudge anyone who does that.  "IF U NO LIKE HIM DEN HOW COME U WANT TO BEE HIM LOL" is the argument of a mouth breather.

For an impartial opinion, I asked a younger journalist who works for one of ESPN's competitors if he thought Simmons is a good writer. "As far as craft? No. His pieces are too long, there's too much I in them, and he goes on too many tangents. 

All true.  Also, he has nothing interesting to say and a 9th grade vocabulary.

But he's very smart, 

Well, we can write whoever this person is off as an idiot themselves.

he's wittier than all the people who imitate him, 


and he has an almost encyclopedic knowledge of the NBA. 

And that's what you're looking for in a sportswriter with a huge national profile--no knowledge about most sports, and a lot of knowledge about one sport, which is projected through so many layers of fuckass whining/preening homerism that it's barely even worth reading.

The Internet made Bill Simmons, and it also produced all the people who like to tear him down. 


That's the thing about the Internet — it makes its own gravy, over and over again."

Yeah, whoever this anonymous source is, they're a fucking moron.

Once Simmons got an ESPN assignment, he quickly found an audience. But just as immediately, his relationship with the Worldwide Leader in Sports was full of conflict. "ESPN was idiotic," says Simmons, who can match any athlete for self-confidence. 


"They fucked with my column for the first year, taking out jokes, and I was pissed off. 

Douchechills, douchechills, douchechills.

They were rebuilding their site around me, 

No.  No they were not.  Not even years and years later, when you had enough clout to get Grantland and the budget that comes along with it, was the country's #1 sports media company building anything around you.  Get over yourself, you pathetic horse's ass.

but they were paying me nothing. So I had a meltdown: I didn't turn in a column. I was like, 'Attica! Attica!' " He laughs. "I was probably smoking too much pot."


ESPN rewarded his work strike with a raise. "Bill likes to be in control," an insider says. 

This insider's name: Sill Bimmons.

"In the early days, he was very upset about where they placed his column, versus where other columnists were. He's a great advocate for himself and his brand."

Ah shit, OK, it was Darren Rovell.  I should have guessed.  Man that guy is a dickhead.  I hope he gets fired soon.

It wasn't Simmons' last fight with his bosses. They've suspended him from Twitter twice for tweets: for referring to Boston sports-radio hosts who worked for an ESPN affiliate as "deceitful scumbags," 

Captain tinydick strikes again.  Not that WEEI DJs are probably any less horrible.

and also for saying an interview that aired on ESPN was "awful and embarrassing." Does he think they were right to suspend him? "No, I don't."

/"tiniest violin in the world" finger rubbing motion

ESPN is owned by the Walt Disney Company, and some of Simmons' behavior — like, say, calling soccer "gay" or mocking people for being fat — makes him a far more troublesome employee than Mickey Mouse. 

The author of this piece is somehow a more worthless writer than Simmons himself.  Jesus that's bad.

Periodically, the two parties get annoyed at one another. ESPN president John Skipper once said working with Simmons was "about 99.8 percent great." ("Working with ESPN is 99.1 percent great," Simmons counters.) 

Zing?  What?

Convincing the network to do 30 For 30 required "a year of arm-twisting," he says. When it was a success, and his basketball book had been a big hit, his contract was up for renewal. "I had a little leverage." He told ESPN that he wanted his own site, or he'd leave and do it elsewhere.

Spoken with all the cunning and accomplishment of a man born on third base who believes he hit a triple.

Grantland's success, like Simmons', has resulted from good fortune as well as talent. Since 2002, Boston teams have dominated pro sports, tallying eight titles in twelve calendar years, including baseball, basketball, hockey, and football. No other city has ever had that kind of success, and it brought a lot of attention to Simmons. No wonder he loves Tom Brady so much.

What?  1) Grantland launched in 2011--Boston has won two championships since, and one happened like a week after the launch--it's not like it's been around since the days of NOMAHHHHH; but more importantly, 2) Grantland has nothing to do with Boston in the first place, other than being affiliated with Simmons.  What the fuck is going on in that paragraph?  Can anyone parse it for me?

"When we were launching, we didn't realize technology advances would help us so much." GIFs, Instapaper, wi-fi, embeddable links — all foster the ease of promoting a digital magazine. 

Again... 2011.  As in three years ago.  What the fuck are they talking about?  Wi-fi?  They started installing it on fucking airplanes three years ago.  Christ, it was available in subway tunnels like eight years ago.  It's been available in coffee shops and residences since the turn of the century.

"The iPad has been a godsend — it's probably the greatest thing that's' happened to Grantland. Nobody knew the fucking iPad was coming. I didn't. We hit at the right time."

I promise you, the iPad has about as much to do with the success of Grantland as Bill has to do with the rise of ESPN.  Christ, what a moron.

In a recent month, Grantland, according to comScore, had 4.7 million unique visitors, which represents just a sliver of ESPN's 62 million unique visitors 

YA DON'T SAY!  I could swear we were just talking about how Bill was ESPN and ESPN was Bill.

and pales compared to Yahoo Sports' 57.9 million. (Even Deadspin, the Johnny Lawrence to Simmons’ Daniel LaRusso, had 13.8 million.) 

But you can subtract 13.7 million of those, because secretly everyone who works there wants to be best friends with Bill!!!!!

But the site's balance sheet isn't the point. ESPN likely pays him more than $5 million a year, the insider estimates — not because of Grantland, but because Simmons is a guy with big ideas, a one-man vertical-integration engine.

Barf barf barf barf barf barf barf barf barf barf barf barf

Now that he oversees an empire, Simmons says he doesn't care as much about Boston teams. "It's not life-or-death anymore," he says with a shrug. 

Wrong.  Wrong.  Lies.  According to his ESPN co-anchors (who announced this live on the air tonight, so it's probably more good-natured ribbing that anything else, but I still believe there's real emotion behind it), when he saw that the Celtics didn't move up via the lottery tonight, he said "This is murder" or "This is torture."  (I forget which but it was one of the two.)  IT'S THE DRAFT LOTTERY, YOU DUNCE.  IT'S NOT EVEN THE DRAFT ITSELF.  FUCK YOU.

But that might not be true. His daughter loves L.A.'s hockey team, the Kings, so he took her to see them play his team, the Bruins. "Boston won, and I taunted her on the way home. 


She started crying. She was, like, six years old." A few years later, they went to another Kings-Bruins game, and this time her team won. "She was yelling and high-fiving everyone," Simmons says, "and she taunted me." Of course she did. It's in the bloodline.

What an uninspiring choice for an anecdote that's supposed to wrap up the whole article.  All I learned from it is that Bill is a asshole and his kids will probably grow up to be mean.  This has been uninformative to say the least.  Rolling Stone sucks ass and I hope it goes out of business soon.  Good night and God bless.  SMH.


Anonymous said...

I think you missed Kornheiser's point -- He was simply saying that while it's a great time to be a sportswriter (they're making money hand over first, particularly at the world-wide leader), the writing is actually pretty shitty. To me, it's more of a dig at the SGs and Rick Reillys of the world. And I'm on board with that.

Anon said...

Nah. I'm not so charitable to Kornheiser. I think he was taking the standard dig at bloggers. That might happen to include Bill Simmons, but overall he's being a contrarian douche bitching about college dropouts in basements.

Larry B said...

Upon re-reading, first Anonymous might be right, but in that case I would have to agree with Kornheiser, and that's not a world I'm prepared to live in. I think it can be read as an anti-blogger complaint as well if we assume he was being sarcastic. Which he usually is.

Anonymous said...

Also I'm not sure how he "couldn't see the iPad coming". I'm pretty sure when Grantland launched they were already on the second generation...

Anonymous said...

If FJM existed ninety years ago it would have devoted a weekly column to hammering Grantland Rice.

Larry B said...

Disagree, for the reasons discussed here. (I should have linked this in the original post)


Alex said...

RE: Endorsements. Don't forget Gretzky used to endorse GWG jeans back in the early 80s.


True story. He came to my (largely French-Canadian) hometown back then and while waiting in line for my own GWG Gretzky (shown in link) he looked up and asked "anyone speak English here?" I meekly raised my hand but he didn't see. I'm still perturbed. If I ever see him I'm gonna accost him with that story; preferably when drunk.

Alex said...

As for Kornheiser, at least he has taken less shots at bloggers than his colleague and pal Wilbon as well as Costas. The latter two are insufferable when it comes to commenting on blogging.

I blog but I don't live in my mother's basement, hold a university degree (for whatever that's worth), own a business and probably can write better than 3/4 of the staff at ESPN (the amount of factual and grammatical errors I spot in their articles is criminal).

So yeah, it kinda pisses me off whenever I hear guys like that blast blogging. Let's face it. Talking or writing about sports isn't that hard.

Anonymous said...

Damn blog blasters

Chris W said...

call me a booger blaster? I'll blast a booger so hard....

Bill Brown said...

Please - in the name of God, please - shred this piece of shit by Christine Brennan, the bitchiness of unfairness.