Gelf Magazine - Looking over the overlooked

Media | Sports

June 5, 2007

An Interview with the Sports Guy

Bill Simmons won't answer our questions. So we're answering his.

Vincent Valk

A year or so ago, when Now I Can Die in Peace first came out and Bill Simmons was darting around the country on his book tour, Gelf got in touch with ESPN to ask if we could review the book and set up an interview with the Sports Guy. To our delight, a copy of the book promptly arrived in the mail and a rep from emailed us to tell us an interview could easily be arranged.

Courtesy Wikipedia
"What's the antonym of confidence? Diffidence?"

Courtesy Wikipedia

After a little back and forth with the rep about how to reach Simmons, it was decided that the best way to interview him would be to send him questions over email, as he "has plenty of time on the plane to get these done." After a few days, we got a note saying that Simmons received the questions, but wouldn't be available to answer them until the next month. That was the last we heard from Simmons or ESPN, despite Gelf's multiple follow-up emails and phone calls.

Maybe it was because some of the questions rubbed Simmons the wrong way. Here are a couple:

"You write that sports columnists have a shelf life of 8-10 years before they start to lose it. Do you worry about losing it? Do you ever feel like you’re trying to write like Bill Simmons, rather than just writing about what’s actually on your mind?"

"When you had your intern competition, did you get the impression that people were trying to write as you do, instead of coming up with their own voices? And if so, do you find that flattering or scary?"

Or maybe it's just that Simmons is a busy guy. He has to continuously mix sports knowledge and pop-culture references into a stew composed of obvious jokes, faux-regular-guy phraseology, and rhetorical questions. Lots and lots of rhetorical questions. So many, in fact, that Gelf realized that Simmons was indeed willing to do an interview with us, so long as he was the one doing the asking. So, while we wait for Simmons to respond to our questions, here's how we'd respond to a few of his.

Bill Simmons: Then, during Sunday's game, [Yankees Manager Joe Torre] made the ultimate panic move of bringing in Friday's starter (Andy Pettitte) to get three outs. Maybe you'd see that move in October, but April?

Gelf Magazine: You see it in April, too, sometimes. The appearance you're referring to—in relief against the Red Sox on April 22—was actually Pettitte's second relief appearance of the season. His first came in the sixth inning of the Yankees' fifth game, against the Baltimore Orioles. He had started a game three days earlier.

BS: Along those same lines, who are the loose cannons on this particular Yankees team?

GM: We imagine that you, a Red Sox fan, are somehow yearning for Paulie. We hear Tyler Clippard is pretty wild, though.

BS: But what if [the Yankees are] eight games back at the break? What then?

GM: There are a number of possible outcomes. Some fans may remember the 1978 season, when the Yanks were 11.5 back at the break before Bucky Dent earned his middle name. Or—Steinbrenner forbid—the Yankees could miss the postseason. Of course, there's also a little thing called the wild card. (Although now we're talking 12.5 games back…)

BS: Where's Oliver Stone?

GM: We can't quite be sure, but his film production company is based in Santa Monica, California, so maybe somewhere around there.

BS: How many big guys shoot 39 percent from 3-point territory and put up an 18-9 every night?

GM: None, apparently. A search through forwards and centers on reveals no players with such career averages. Dirk Nowitzki comes close, with career averages of 22.3 points, 8.6 rebounds and a 38% percentage on 3s. Even the guy you're talking about, Mehmet Okur, averaged 18 points and seven rebounds this season, while shooting 38 percent from 3-point territory (his exact average was 38.4 percent; for some reason you rounded up). Last year, he averaged 18-9 but only shot 34 percent from 3-point range; his career averages are 13 points, seven rebounds, and 36 percent, respectively.

BS: How the hell do you hit this guy [Daisuke Matsuzaka]?

GM: According to SI's Tom Verducci, Matsuzaka throws "a four-seam fastball, a two-seam fastball, a cut fastball, a shuuto (hard sinker with left to right cut), a curveball, a slider, a splitter and a changeup." That's gotta be pretty hard to hit, and we certainly couldn't do it (then again, we're pretty sure we couldn't hit Jose Lima). However, Toronto's Alex Rios is 3-for-6 with a walk against Dice-K, so perhaps Simmons could ask him. (Overall, major leagues are hitting a respectable .263 against the Red Sox rookie.) Or, if you want a larger sample size (and we hope you do), Mariners catcher Kenji Johjima hit .271 with 5 home runs in 188 at-bats against "The Monster" in Japan. He might really know something.

BS: What's the antonym of confidence? Diffidence?

GM: Yep (though there are others, such as insecurity).

BS: Did we ever figure out how Dick Vitale can endorse Pizza Hut and DiGiorno's at the same time? Isn't that like doing ads for Pepsi and Diet Coke?

GM: It's more like doing ads for Kinko's and Lexmark. In any case, according to ESPN spokesperson Michael Hume, Vitale never endorsed Pizza Hut. Maybe you're thinking of Papa John's, which featured Vitale in ads before he started his exclusive deal with DiGiorno's. It's sort of like what Kobe Bryant did when he endorsed for Adidas before he signed with Nike.

BS: All I know is this: Saturday's games (Florida-UCLA and OSU-Georgetown) are appointment viewing for anyone who ever gave a crap about basketball. When's the last time you could say something like that about the Final Four?

GM: We suppose that really depends on your definition of "appointment viewing for anyone who ever gave a crap about basketball." If you like highly-ranked teams, the 2005 national championship game featured two No. 1 seeds (North Carolina beat Illinois). If you prefer Cinderella stories, 11th-seeded George Mason made it to the Final Four in 2006. If you don't care for college basketball, well, you're probably not going to watch the Final Four.

BS: Can I run a seven-receiver offense next year? Is that legal?

GM: No. The NFL's rules mandate that 11 players take the field on offense, seven of whom must line up directly in front of the line of scrimmage. The five in the middle aren't ever eligible receivers. But the other six players could be. Generally speaking, player usage is the domain of coaches, which makes sense; receivers and running backs alike are allowed to catch passes, for example.

BS: My favorite part of this story: My buddy Mikey spent $12 on Igawa in our AL-only league. How do you say "sunk cost" in Japanese?

GM: I believe it's Maibotsu Hiyou.

BS: When was the last time boxing captured the attention of casual sports fans?

GM: It depends on your perspective, but Gelf's best guess is June 28, 1997, when Mike Tyson bit off part of Evander Holyfield's ear and officially entered this thing we like to call the "Tyson Zone."

—Aaron Zamost contributed to this article.

Related in Gelf: Breakdowns of the Sports Guy's gambling habit, and his intern competition.

Vincent Valk

Vincent Valk is online editor for Chemical Week magazine.

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- Sports
- posted on Jun 06, 07
Brian McGovern


- Sports
- posted on Jun 06, 07

Wow, how incredibly lame.

- Sports
- posted on Jun 06, 07
Bill L.

I understand where your coming from in getting on Sports Guy, but your answering of his rhetorical questions was not funny. It was just nerdy and sniveling.

- Sports
- posted on Jun 06, 07

So sad. I guess this was the best way you could get some attention. Not funny, not clever, just lame.

- Sports
- posted on Jun 06, 07
Sandy Coan

Are you serious? Bill Simmons is the shit. He probably didn't want to answer your questions 'cause your not even on his fucking radar.

- Sports
- posted on Jun 06, 07

fucking brilliant. i've never posted a flattering observation on a sportsblog post, but it appears that distinction's only got 3 seconds of life left.



- Sports
- posted on Jun 06, 07
ozzie gullien

vincent valk is a faggot

- Sports
- posted on Jun 06, 07

What's the antonym of confidence? Diffidence?

What's the antonym of funny? Vincent Valk?

- Sports
- posted on Jun 06, 07

you sound a bit bitter about the whole getting stood up by bill simmons thing. want a lollipop?

- Sports
- posted on Jun 06, 07

I'm of the opinion that post-2003 Simmons has been absolutely terrible and his "fans" have the reading comprehension of a stereotypical frat boy.

As biased as I am, this article was not funny.

- Sports
- posted on Jun 06, 07

Forget Simmons, you are far worse sir. Your mean-spirited "NFL Rules" paragraph should get you fired, if you even have a job.

- Sports
- posted on Jun 06, 07
Johnny Franchise

How can people actually like Bill Simmons?
How many times can you read the exact same mash up of:
Wooo, I love me some Boston area teams!
I used to watch sporting events with my dad!
Lame, outdated pop culture reference!

Yeah, Bill, fucking great...move on.

- Sports
- posted on Jun 06, 07

the only thing that is less funny and puts out more bad vibes than sarcastic reotrical questions are even more sarcastic answers to the questions.
You accuse him of doing obvious jokes, then you pull out this jem:
"BS: Where's Oliver Stone?

GM: We can't quite be sure, but his film production company is based in Santa Monica, California, so maybe somewhere around there."


- Sports
- posted on Jun 06, 07

PS: You think those weak-ass attempts at insults disguised as fairly standard questions rubbed him the wrong way? Way to ask the tough ones, Mary Hart.

- Sports
- posted on Jun 06, 07

Good to see Sports Guy's got all his buddies posting for him in the comment section again. Amazing who the same people say the same things in every single critique of Sports Guy on the web.

- Sports
- posted on Jun 07, 07

I've been reading TSG since late '01, and I think he's best when not taking himself too seriously. The "remember, as always, I'm an idiot" guy. I'm glad that he's been so successful, but lately his ego and sensitivity to criticism have been tough to ignore. I guess as long as he sticks with the WWL, he doesn't really have to answer to anyone.

- Sports
- posted on Jun 19, 07

I thought this was funny.

- Sports
- posted on Aug 03, 07

No offense, but this sucks. To make matters worse, you seem like kind of an asshole. And you live in staten island, although given your lack of redeeming talent and dickish persona, that's probably appropriate. At least the Yankees are coming back!

- Sports
- posted on Aug 03, 07

Terrible article, not funny at all. You seem jealous of Simmons - how sad.

- Sports
- posted on Nov 24, 08

Funny article. Simmons could write complete drivel and his fans would still lap it up. No one wants to hear about how he can relate a play at home plate to an episode of 90210.

Article by Vincent Valk

Vincent Valk is online editor for Chemical Week magazine.

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