I Hate Bill Simmons

>> Saturday

Bill Simmons Hates Peyton Manning. He's also from Boston, in case you've never noticed. It's pretty hard to tell.

I grew up disliking the Yankees.

For real? No kiddin'.

Maybe I didn't have much of a choice growing up in Massachusetts,

You did? No kiddin'.

but much of that dislike happened organically, thanks to a bench-clearing brawl in '76 in which Mickey Rivers and Graig Nettles teamed up to separate Bill Lee's shoulder and give him a black eye, followed by the Boston Massacre and the Dent homer two years later

Bill--seriously, enough with the childhood memories all the time. It's ridiculous how much of your columns are just you recalling past sports moments or stories of something your dad or your buddy Gus or or your buddy House said one time.

That antipathy has been part of my life ever since. I enjoy disliking the Yankees. I love watching them lose. When the Tigers upended them a few weeks ago, I was almost embarrassed how happy the whole thing made me, to the point that I decided against writing about it.

We appreciate that, Bill.

I actively dislike them.

You dislike the Yankees. Ok.

And sure, I've had other sports flings with extreme dislike: the Dolphins and Sixers in the early '80s; the Pistons and Lakers in the mid-'80s; the Canadiens in the late '70s; the Jets in the late '90s; the Penguins in the early '90s (right before I quit following the Bruins);

Which, I belive, implies that the Bruins no longer exist, if I've learned anything about Bill Simmon's horrendously writer-based prose and worldview.

Mr. Fuji and Mr. Saito in the late '70s; and about 20 different broadcasting teams that I'm not allowed to mention.

At least you hate Joe Morgan. If you score one point with me in this column, there it is. Resume being a jerk.

But you know who else cracks that list?
The Manning-era Colts, that's who.


Every year, I dislike them a little bit more. I'm tired of seeing them, tired of reading about them, tired of hearing about them. Seeing their white and blue uniforms puts the same sneer on my face that Nicholson had when he saw Cruise's JAG outfit at Guantanamo Bay. Getting constantly bombarded by those insufferable Manning commercials makes me want to throw my remote against the wall. And after seeing him choke like Aurora Snow against Pittsburgh last January,

I had to google Aurora Snow to find who that is. (She's a porn star.) Does that make me or Simmons the geek? I think we know the answer to that. Also, why is Simmons always talking about porn? Does that prove him more "Sportsguy"-ish or something? It's annoying.

I thought everyone would realize he was the A-Rod of football, someone who couldn't deliver in the clutch, someone who routinely shrunk from the pressure.

Man, have I been anxiously awaiting this one. I can't believe it's taken so long. I'm sure Simmons isn't the first to make the ridiculous comparison based on ridiculous characterizations based on ridiculous logic, but I'm shocked it hasn't been more prevalent in the sports media.

How many more seasons of evidence did we need?

Agreed--Manning's teams have not yet exceeded playoff expectations since he came into the league. But let's look at those playoff results:

1999--Manning's second season, the Colts lose a home divisional-round game by 3 to a team with the same record (13-3). A disappointment, but not unforgiveble.

2000--The 10-6 Colts lose at 11-5 Miami in OT in the wild card round. Not a bad showing for a team on the road, where teams are expected to lose in the playoffs.

2002--The 10-6 Colts lose at the 9-7 Jets 41-0 in the wild card round. Ok, ouch.

2003--The 12-4 Colts lose at the 14-2 Patriots by 10 in the AFC Championship. Again, on the road, in a hostile road environment.

2004--The 12-4 Colts lose by 17 to the 14-2 Patriots (one week after blowing out Denver by 25) this time in the divisional round but in the same hostile road environment, where teams should lose in the playoffs.

2005--The 14-2 Colts lose a heartbreaker by 3 to the World Champ 11-5 Steelers--on the same Sunday that the Patriots suffered a two-TD loss at Denver.

I realize that this is quite a job of rationalization, but besides the blowout in '02, are any of these losses really so awful? Certainly the two losses in Foxboro--on which this choker reputation has mostly been established--were near-impossible games for any team to win.

As with the A-Rod myth, one can choose to live on the "perception is reality" premise. That's fine if that's how you wanna be. But looking at the "evidence" that creates these perceptions are rarely as conclusive as far-reaching sportswriters would like to believe.

Say one guy is a choker. Say the other guy is a hero. Stick with it. Don't make much mention of the overall team talent level. It's a proven winner in the papers.

Of course, with the Colts undefeated through eight weeks, the same crap has started up again.

Because the Colts are 7-0.

Manning is the best quarterback ever.

Because he very well may be.

The Colts are unstoppable.

They're saying this about the Bears, mostly. But whatever, Simmons reads different papers, so I'll give him this one.

On and on it goes. Nobody seems to care that their front seven can't stop anyone, or that January football is completely different that regular-season football.

Not when you play in a dome, silly!

The whole thing gives me a headache.

What do you know. Bill is talking about himself again.

I don't work for ESPN, but I already know the topic of next week's Bill Simmons column: Bill Simmons.

Even worse, everyone's lack of historical perspective has been more skewed than ever:

"everyone's" = "Bill Simmons's"

Like Phil Simms remarking during the tail end of Indy's victory in Denver, "over on the sideline, you've got two of the best clutch players in NFL history in Adam Vinatieri and Peyton Manning." Um ... what?????? What planet is this?

Earth??????? (Na na na na na. I beat you by a question mark.) It's a planet where Peyton Manning makes big, "clutch" throws on a weekly basis. I would consider connecting on any TD pass opportunity a "clutch" activity. Or I'm sorry, can clutch only be applied to performance over entire games of arbitrarily-determined length that are artificially assigned a greater degree of importance?

And to think, I used to defend Phil Simms. I don't even know how to react to a statement like that; Simms could have called Manning "one of the greatest African-American quarterbacks of all-time" and it wouldn't have been any less perplexing.

That's called hyperbole, young aspiring writers.

Meanwhile, here's Tom Brady and his three Super Bowl rings.

That he won with his team.

He's never had a top-10 receiver on his team.

But has had other teammates. A disproportionate number of which have been good. Oh, he's also had coaches too.

He's never had a top-10 tight end on his team. He's never had an elite runner except for Corey Dillon in 2004. His receivers leave for other teams and completely fall off the face of the earth. During his first Super Bowl season, he survived a QB controversy with local hero Drew Bledsoe and the loss of his only deep threat (Terry Glenn). Two summers ago, his offensive coordinator fled for Notre Dame and the team didn't even bother spending money to replace him.

I defy Bill Simmons to name any QB in the history of the NFL of any notoriety that didn't go through at least a couple O-coordinators, not to mention head coaches.

This season, they lowballed his top two receivers, pushed them out the door,

Are these the same receivers that fell "off the face of the earth"? Were they really lowballed?

then expected Brady to break in a new group of guys as the season was going on. And the guy just keeps winning. Out of all the must-win games over the years, he came up short only in Denver last January.

And obviously, I'm horribly biased on this subject.

Obviously! Oh, I see...you said that. Fair enough. Carry on.

But after everything that's happened since 2001, for the life of me, I can't understand why anyone would ...
A. Take Manning over Brady in a big game.


Yeah, remember when the Vikings chose Manning over Brady when they needed to win that game in Arizona to clinch the playoffs two years ago, and they ended up losing on that miracle TD pass? I can't understand why the Vikings would do that.

Actually, that never happened because it's a stuid hypothetical decision that could never happen, but Simmons gets upset about it anyway.

B. Even bring this topic up.

Next time, don't.

It's perplexing. It's completely illogical. It's like standing in front of a used car dealership looking for something reliable for a cross-country trip, having the oily salesman tell you, "The car on the left won't knock your socks off, but it will definitely make it to the West Coast, while the car on the right is more fun to drive, but there's a 99 percent chance it will break down somewhere around Arizona or Nevada," then saying, "Screw it, I'll take my chances with the car on the right."

That's called anology, you young writers. This example is particularly long and terrible. I wouldn't suggest immitating it.

If I wasn't a diehard Pats fan, I'd write about this subject more often because it's one of those debates that gets to the heart of sports. What REALLY matters here? Would you rather have the guy with great stats or the guy who comes through when it matters? And if you'd go with the guy with the great stats, why even play these games in the first place?

And this is one of those debates that gets to the heart of sports analysis. What conclusive evidence does Simmons have that those stats are not contributing more to winning than Brady's (sometimes) less statistically-impressive performances? Why couldn't other factors be preventing the Colts from winning these playoff games? Or why can't these stats translate into wins in the future with more frequency than in the past?

For instance, there's been a revisionist movement over the past 20-25 years from basketball writers (mostly statheads) arguing that Chamberlain was better than Russell, which is completely absurd.

Ask anyone who watched basketball then and they all say the same things: Russell wouldn't be denied in big games, while Chamberlain consistently shrunk from the moment. Wilt was obsessed with individual stats, while Russell was obsessed with team play and doing everything possible to make his teammates better. (Note: If you ever want to read a decent book about Wilt-Russell, check out "The Rivalry" by John Taylor, and if you ever want to read a great piece about Russell's obsession with winning, check out the chapter in "Second Wind" called "Teammates.")

All right. I'm heading to the library right now. NOT! But you really thought I was going, right? I totally had you going. That was hilarious.

That's why Russell won 11 titles in 13 years, and that's why Wilt was the centerpiece of as many titles as trades: two.

Granted, Wilt's stat love may have cost him a couple more titles throughout his career. But did Russell not have a bunch of other Hall of Fame talent around him during that run? And during how many of those years was Russell legitimately the Celtics' best player? I don't know; maybe it was all of them. But I kind of doubt it. Let's call Dr. Jack Ramsey.

Look, I'd never be dumb enough to compare Manning to someone as famously selfish as Wilt. But his playoff track record is eerily similar to Wilt's before the '67 season -- right down to the lack of titles and the boatload of excuses -- and if you really want to get technical, you could argue that Wilt's Philly team beat Boston in '67 only because it was Russell's first year as player-coach, he didn't have any assistants, and he would always lose track of how long people had been playing and forget to bring back his best players into games (something Taylor's book covers really well -- Philly didn't win the title that season as much as Red and the Celtics gave it away by mistakenly thinking Russell could handle his player-coach role without any help).

That's not getting "technical." That's getting totally, crazily speculative. And enough with this damned book already.

Whether Manning enjoys his version of Wilt's '67 season remains to be seen. But how can we keep comparing a player who repeatedly comes up big to a player who repeatedly does not?

Oh my God, Bill, you're killing me.

Let's play a game. It'll be the showdown of all showdowns.

Team A: "The Champ-eens"
Scott Brosius
Bill Wennington
Pat Borders
Tommie Agee
Kurt Rambis
Brent Jones
_____________
16 titles

Team B: "The Chokers"
Dan Marino
Charles Barkley
Karl Malone
Ted Williams
Alex Rodriguez
Eric Dickerson
______________
0 titles

Let's assume all these guys are living and in their primes. Pick a sport--baseball, soccer, cliff diving, that Iranian sport where guys on horseback kick around a goat's head--I don't care. I'm putting my money on Team B.

The ongoing debate (and the inanity of it) makes me dislike the Colts a little more every year. Which is a good thing. I like having rivals. I like having opponents to actively dislike. And now we're at the point where I don't just want the Pats to win on Sunday night, I want to destroy the Colts. I want to see their hearts get ripped out.

Yikes.

I want to see Manning limping off the field with his chin strap dangling and one of those dumb looks on his face where he looks like a psychiatric-ward patient who was just heavily sedated after he hit someone over the head with a metal chair.

...after just banging his head on a solid oak headboard while awakening from a deep coma caused by a freak ladder accident suffered while painting his house sea green, except for his garage which he painted gray, because he'd run out of sea green and a sea green paint shortage and a bad transmission in his car prevented him from buying more, since it happened during the great sea green paint shortage / transmission failure epidemic of 1997.

I want to see them leave Foxborough with everyone saying, "Yup, we're idiots, we forgot that you shouldn't go against Brady in a big game" and "God, I'm dumb, I forgot that you can't beat a great team in a big game if you can't stop the run."
All of this would make me happy. Really, really happy.

I now have a reason to pull for the Colts like never before. I'll even break out my Italian horn voodoo powers for this one.

As weird as this sounds, I'd like to thank Manning and the Colts, as well as everyone who keeps blowing smoke up their butts. You're making sports more fun for me. It's always fun to have a team you actively dislike. In my case, I have two. So thank you.

Two more extended notes on the game:

1. It's interesting that Red Auerbach was laid to rest during the same week that Adam Vinatieri arrives in New England, since Belichick's unwillingness to keep the most clutch kicker alive was eerily similar to something that happened 30 years ago, right after Boston beat Phoenix for the '76 title:

What an amazing coincidence that the perfect comparison would also involve Boston sports.

At the time, Paul Silas was the soul of the Celtics team, a terrific rebounder and locker room leader who controlled the boards with Dave Cowens in every big game. In fact, they could have won four straight titles if not for Havlicek's separated shoulder ('73) and a random Bullets player named Nick Weatherspoon catching fire and having the series of his life ('75).

When you think about it, they really actually literally did win both times.

So Silas became a restricted free agent and wanted a multiyear contract for market value. And here's where Red made a rare mistake: Instead of shifting with the times and admitting, "All right, the financial climate has changed a little bit here thanks to the ABA merger, I need to take care of this guy," he stubbornly stuck to his "Nobody will make more money than the best guy on my team" policy (in this case, Havlicek), even though Cowens and Havlicek were begging him to pay Silas the money.

I'm nodding off here, Bill.

So what happened? Red traded Silas to Denver in a three-way deal that got him Curtis Rowe (a shaky character guy), Boston quickly fell from a perennial contender to an also-ran, and poor Cowens was so disillusioned, he actually took a 40-game leave of absence that season and ended up driving a cab around Boston. (Imagine if Gilbert Arenas did that?)

...Zzzzzzz...

Four years later, Red was faced with a similar decision when Larry Bird (who the Celtics drafted as a junior-eligible in the '78 draft) finished his senior year at Indiana State. They had something like five weeks to sign him before his name was placed back in the '79 Draft, and Bird's agent was asking for something like $3 million over five years. Just like with Silas, Red pulled his whole "Nobody's making more money than my best player" (in this case, Cowens) routine. Both sides dug in. Then, something weird happened: Red caved. He gave Bird the money. The rest was history. And I'm not sure this would have happened if Red hadn't blown Silas' situation a few years before.

__________________________________

(Flat-line. Get it?)

Now we're looking at a similar situation with the Patriots. Belichick and Pioli adamantly stuck to their model for building a team -- they evaluate what each Patriot is worth in their minds, determine his probable value on the open market and then, if the difference between those two figures is too significant, they jettison the player and find someone else.

Sounds familiar. Hey, you know who two really good pro teams are, just off the top of my head? The A's and Patriots--not that they have anything in common or anything.

In the salary cap era, they've been the only team with the resolve to stick to their guns EVERY TIME, without fail. And any time those two figures didn't mesh, they either traded the player or allowed him to leave: like Damien Woody, Patten and Givens, Joe Andruzzi, Ty Law, Lawyer Milloy, Willie McGinest, Christian Fauria, Tebucky Jones and, most famously, Deion Branch a few weeks ago.

Those guys were (almost) all old and not good anymore. Why do you have a problem with this model?

Hey, I'm fine with that model.

Oh. Weird. A second ago, you didn't sound that way at all.

I love when front offices use common sense to build a team; I especially love when they stick to a specific game plan and avoid being pressured by owners, fans, media members or anyone else. It's the single hardest thing to achieve in sports -- a stable front office with definitive goals that can't be swayed by anyone or anything. You can count the number of professional teams that pulled this off over the past 10 years on one hand.

And with that said...

And with that said ...

They screwed up with Vinatieri.

So the model is great in every which way and is great precisely because of its consistency, yet they should've bucked consistency--the underlying premise of the approach--in this one particular instance because even though the policy is always right, it's wrong this time.

I can't think this hard this late. I just know the argument is crazy.

It wasn't about the money, either. He's one of the greatest Patriots ever.

[record scratch] W-wh-wha-what?

Again... [record scratch] ...W-wh-wha-what???

Adam Vinateri is a kicker. Over his career, I would guess (this is only a guess) he's roughly 5% more accurate than an average kicker from his era. I know the Pats aren't exactly the Bears or Cowboys, but come on, Billy. Let's not get silly.

Out of the 12 greatest kicks in NFL history, he probably made four of them. He was our version of Mo Rivera; we wouldn't have won a single title without him, much less three.

[record scratch] You're saying, Bill Simmons, that Adam Vinateri's margin of accuracy over a theoretical replacement is so great that the Patriots would not have won a single Super Bowl without him? I understand that he hit huge kicks during each of those runs, but to say they "wouldn't have one a single title" is guessing so, so much.

Words words words words Boston talk words words words words words porn joke words words words words words words I'm Bill Simmons yay words words words words words.

Whatever. I can't believe he wrote some of the crap he wrote in this colum. Maybe it's just me. But I'm sticking to my guns. Bill Simmons is a sloppy hack with bad judgment. And he writes too fucking much about Boston.





2 comments:

Nathan 3:35 AM  

He didn't even mention that Peyton is an endorsement whore, the only legitimate reason to hate him.

Also, I don't get this hating the Patriots thing. In all my experience as a sports fan, aside from longtime rivalries (which the Colts/Patriots definitely is not) I have never hated a team or player that my team routinely beat.
I didn't hate the 49ers growing up because come December, they were the Packers' bitch (until, of course, The Catch II, which changed all my feelings towards the Niners). Instead, Packers fans of the 90s hated the fucking Cowboys, because they knocked us out of the playoffs like, what, seven times in four years?

Knicks fans hated Reggie Miller because Reggie killed them.
Jazz fans hated Michael Jordan because he kept Malone's dirty hands off the championship trophy.
Every golfer in the world hates Tiger Woods because, well, Tiger beats everyone.

Maybe it's just me, but Bill Simmons' hatred for Peyton and the Colts tells me that he's scared that this is the year that they beat his beloved Pats.


But geez, fuck Bill Simmons. I used to like him, but all he does anymore is write about his teams, his personal life and in general, a bunch of shit that nobody cares about but him.

Matt 1:09 PM  

Someone needs to ask Bill Simmons to name one quarterback that won a Super Bowl on his own. Favre? No. Brady? Absolutely not. Elway? Laughable. Aikman? Hell 2 da naw! Even Montana didn't shoulder the load in the revisionistically heroic way Simmons thinks that Brady has and Manning hasn't.

Attributing Manning's lack of a championship to only Manning may be the most ridiculous argument in the NFL. Well, that, and attributing the Patriots success to just Tom Brady. Bill Simmons - you suck.

Also - here's a fun fact: which quarterback has more touchdowns in the playoffs? The answer: it's a tie. Manning has the same amount of TD passes and only 30 fewer yards in two less playoff appearances. Also, Captain Choke-away-the-big-one only has three more INTs in the playoffs. If you can find a dramatic difference in those numbers (enough to attribute success/failure to one guy, anyway) then you're a smarter man than I.

(Note: Bill Simmons is not a smarter man than I.)

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