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Bill Simmons: A Debate


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I'm on record as being a bit of a Simmons hater, and extremely anti-Grantland. I was just about to post something in the only Music thread I read ("What Music Are Guys Listening To?"), and decided to move it here, instead. Because, you know: more appropriate.I really, really hate Grantland. Most of it is useless or poorly-written; all of it could use a real editor. Here's an example from today:http://www.grantland.com/blog/the-triangle...esmond-jenningsThis is an email exchange between Jonah Keri and Bill Simmons, posted on ESPN.com's front page. Somebody, anybody, argue thata) Simmons makes senseb) This article was deserving of publicationPlease.

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I think simmons is at his best, when he's writing about the pure emotion of being a fan. the agony and the emotion of big moments ( which for him, involve boston sports). Then, I really enjoy his work

grantland is the best. i go there daily.

Yeah , I look forward to not reading that site like I didn't read grantland.

Bill Simmons for me has entered the Dennis Miller zone. He is utilizing abstract pop culture references for affect rather than working it into a story in which it makes sense. BS has done this format before, where he and a colleague e mail back and forth then they turn it into a running blog of sorts. I think the format can work if executed properly and about a subject matter which people care.I can't seen anyone caring enough about this player to read all of that. I read the first couple paragraphs, then skimmed.

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Bill Simmons for me has entered the Dennis Miller zone. He is utilizing abstract pop culture references for affect rather than working it into a story in which it makes sense. BS has done this format before, where he and a colleague e mail back and forth then they turn it into a running blog of sorts. I think the format can work if executed properly and about a subject matter which people care.I can't seen anyone caring enough about this player to read all of that. I read the first couple paragraphs, then skimmed.
Baseball is my favorite sport, and I have had Deezy on my fantasy team since 2009. In terms of subject matter, I actually care a great deal about the rationale behind the decision to leave Desmond Jennings in AAA for so long.Even so: I find the exchange to be useless and retardedEDIT: Also: gay
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I read the whole thing earlier today and actually thought, "Wow, Wang would hate this." I didn't post it because I like Grantland and didn't want more ammo against it.But it was pretty awful.I kept waiting for the punchline from Simmons. He gets: easily entrenched. I still usually enjoy him.

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And another thing...I don't like how the writers will sometimes refer to Simmons as "the boss." I thought the point of the website was simply to bring a bunch of good writers to one place and let them write. I don't like the idea of him directing input or anything like that. I think Jonah Keri would've been more insulting towards him if he wasn't the boss.I've read a lot of Keri and I don't actually have any evidence of him being insulting to other writers. Maybe I was projecting. Ken Tremendous should lay into some of that garbage.

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I like Grantland ut it was pretty awful.He gets: easily entrenched.
Can I ask why you like Grantland? I've done very little in the way of explaining why Grantland sucks, but I promise I'll get to it eventually. (That's what this thread is for.) A lot of people really, really love Grantland, and I think it is, for the most part, a steaming pile, and I really don't get what people love. I am totally willing to admit that I could be missing something, so I'd like someone to show me what I'm potentially missing, or explain why I'm being unfairly critical. Which brings me to......the second line, above, which is a perfect, four-word summary of exactly why Simmons pisses me off. He gets: easily entrenched. I hate that about him. Just say you're wrong. Just say it. Say: "I'm wrong." Everything doesn't have to be a pissing contest. Sometimes it's okay to start a column with "I'm curious" and just explore. You don't have all the answers all the time, and pretending to is just... it's so immature and pathetic. Nobody expects you to be a legitimate analyst, so stop going toe-to-toe with people who can run circles around you. It makes you look small and sad and petty and I'm embarrassed for you, Bro.
Ken Tremendous should lay into some of that garbage.
I miss him so much. I watch Parks and Recreation just to feel closer to him.
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I miss him so much. I watch Parks and Recreation just to feel closer to him.
Have you listened to any of the Poscasts with him? He's a regular on there. At the end of each podcast they do a draft of something. Most exciting play in sports, best balls, best sports books, etc. I agree with Michael Schur a lot, but he has a really annoying laugh.I'll try to get to why I like Grantland, but I won't promise that it will be compelling.
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I've pretty much stopped enjoying Simmons for a couple years now, even though I still read the majority of his stuff. My favorite Simmons things now is when Chuck Klosterman is involved and makes Bill backtrack and contradict himself, and basically make him sound like a moron. I swear Chuck only does those podcasts for that reason alone.

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I'll try to get to why I like Grantland, but I won't promise that it will be compelling.
First of all, I really only read ~20% of the stuff on there (whereas Cracked is hovering around 85%) and I'll check out of an article pretty quickly if it doesn't grab me. And I certainly don't go there for in-depth analysis. You know what just occurred to me? Grantland is Sports Illustrated online. It does the personal and historical stories really well and the Hollywood Prospectus and The Triangle sections give you a decent amount of interesting tidbits (like George Lucas is making Ewoks blink in the blu-ray edition). Grantland gives you: good stories and fun facts. Grantland does not give you: quality analysis or laugh-out-loud humor.That's good enough for me to keep coming back.
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You read "Drunk Jays Fans?" Really? I... thought I was the only non-Jays fan in the world that read them regularly. (Except, obviously, they've been pretty widely-linked for years.)The criticism that Stoeten levies at Simmons in the linked article is one of the primary reasons I hate Simmons so God damned much. "Hey, let's never let the facts get in the way of a good narrative, amirite?"(see: all sports commentary)
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I wouldn't say I read it regularly. There's a handful of sites where I just sort of read them when I remember them.Did you link to them when you told the Boggs story? I have zero interest in the Jays, but I used to read Rob & Rany on the Royals religiously, so that's never stopped me before.

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I wouldn't say I read it regularly. There's a handful of sites where I just sort of read them when I remember them.Did you link to them when you told the Boggs story? I have zero interest in the Jays, but I used to read Rob & Rany on the Royals religiously, so that's never stopped me before.
Yeah, I think so. I've pasted that story like 3 times, so I'm sure one of the times I read it I posted a link to them, too. "Yeah, ole Wade huh." I have thought about that story five times a week every week since the first time I saw it. I still dream about the BoggsHead in the upper right corner of the website almost every time I sleep.
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yeah I probably hover around 15-20% for number of stories I read on Grantland. That number has been steadily dropping since the site first opened, and 9 of the first 10 articles were outstanding.Cindy nailed it with the Sports Illustrated analogy, that is exactly what it is. It's really the only site online that does magazine length sports stories. There is a lot of crap there, especially recently, but there are some really fantastic pieces of writing sprinkled in as well.

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Well clearly the point of Grantland is to appeal to a wider audience than just hardcore sports fans. For example: I've sent my girlfriend, who has no interest in sports whatsoever, a few links from the site, including an article on women in movies (prompted by Bridesmaids), and one of the youtube compilation articles that included a lot about music. She now browses through the site now and again, and will even tolerate pop culture articles that include some spins on sport-related topics. Personally, I think the site is fine. There have certainly been a handful of huge winners in terms of articles, and as long as you're willing to pick around the complete losers (like on any site), there's a solid rate of articles that are at least palatable in order to find some gems (which have become increasingly rare, but it may be a cycle). As for Simmons himself, my biggest complaint revolves around his constant pop culture references. It's not so much that the shtick is getting old, it's that he seems to be pressing for new ways to include them, so it feels really forced sometimes. The email exchange article is a good example...Simmons really just isn't that funny, especially when he's trying so hard (sorry Wang, I know you hate that phrase). I'm guessing he left the Kimmel show because he absolutely tanked as a straight up comedy writer.
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I'm not sure why I still read everything Simmons writes. Probably for the same reason that I watch every episode of Entourage, whatever that may be. I guess I'm an eternal optimist, always hoping that former favorites will return to their previous days of being moderately above-average.

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I hate Simmons so God damned much.
But you think he's a great, not just good, writer? I'm confused.Have you changed your opinion since last week or do you hate him AND think he's a great writer?
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I think simmons is at his best, when he's writing about the pure emotion of being a fan. the agony and the emotion of big moments ( which for him, involve boston sports). Then, I really enjoy his work. I think a great deal of his pop cultural references/analogies are gimmicky at this point. They seem awkward and inorganic. But I think what frustrates me the most about Simmons is open hostility to statistics and reason based analysis of sports, even though he claims he like certain stat and is "getting into them" or w/e. He is basically like every other sports writer in that respect. I think the basic problem i have with all sports writers ( or sports analysts on TV that came up through newspapers/blogs), is that they are "english" people. That they studied either english, writing or journalism in college. So, when they write an opinion piece, a blog, or spout off on some talking heads show, they have to form a narrative for every story, turn all analysis into some sort of angle or story. Which is fine, but not when they reject reason, statistics, facts, and objective analysis whole cloth when telling their story. They pick and choose what stats to use, instead of looking at the facts/stats objectively and making the story. I can forgive a guy like Tony Kornheiser for doing this because he's legitimately funny, he's bitter, and he's filled with hate, so his radio show is still golden despite his sports opinions being grossly ill informed and often moronic. But Bill Simmons is supposed to be from a different era. He should know better. And I simply don't find him funny enough anymore to put up with his half baked, biased sports analysis. I read only a fraction of the stuff he writes these days, and I've almost phased him out completely. Occasionally I'll find a grantland piece I like or find interesting, But most of pieces I have zero interest in and none of the writers have captured my imagination.

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Simmons is annoying.I like Grantland.Patton Oswalt recently wrote an article about how "nerd culture" used to be about becoming fascinated by some weird little segment of entertainment media, and doing the painstaking legwork of learning the history, the fabric, the influences, and the tangents of that particular thing. There is a Japanese word otaku, which basically means "a person that has become obsessed with learning everything about something esoteric." He gives the examples of comic books, science fiction movies, and underground music.Oswalt goes on to lament that nerd culture has just become mainstream culture, because you can become an otaku on ANYTHING in an hour on the internet.Anyway, I suspect that a huge percentage of Grantland's readers are frequent consumers of shitty media; specifically bad sports talk radio and bad sportswriting in newspapers and magazines. To them, Grantland is a shocking breath of fresh air. The writing is decent, the ideas seem fresh, the awful cliches are gone, the status quo is questioned, they appreciate irony.The people who have done the legwork to find great writing about sports know that Grantland is not the first or best example of this type of writing, and they bristle at the implication. For the otaku of excellent sportswriting on the internet, it might be annoying that the mainstream has (kinda?) latched on to this site, which also enjoys the obvious advantage of a high profile staff.I'm somewhere in the middle. I've probably loved between four and seven articles. I don't think I've hated any. I don't mind the typos as much as some of you.Oh, and I love the Humblebrag monthly recaps.

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I've had the same reaction to recipes and TV Guide entries. Wang hates everything.
I think that Wang is a very capable writer, and holds high expectations for people who write professionally. He often forgets that most people are pretty bad at their respective jobs. He also forgets that most people are blissfully ignorant to certain rules and regulations in the English language, and it's ok for writing to be at the level of the readership in many cases.
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He is basically like every other sports writer in that respect. I think the basic problem i have with all sports writers ( or sports analysts on TV that came up through newspapers/blogs), is that they are "english" people. That they studied either english, writing or journalism in college. So, when they write an opinion piece, a blog, or spout off on some talking heads show, they have to form a narrative for every story, turn all analysis into some sort of angle or story.
I've been thinking about it, and the reason I dislike Simmons -- and I don't hate him nearly as much as I implied a few days ago -- is the same as the reason I hate almost all sports writers (with a few very notable exceptions). DrunkardsWalk.png
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