Sunday, August 7, 2011

I sent an email to Simmons begging him to do a mailbag column, because I am a complete and utter fucking box of tools

SIKE, I actually did NOT send such an email, but apparently dozens of mouth-breathers around the world do every day. Bill always makes sure to lead of his mailbags with a few of those emails just so we all know that the people like him, they really like him! To wit:

Q: I'm having a rough patch in my life. I am a broke college student home for the summer and can't find a job. I deposited $6 to my bank account today and the teller literally laughed at me when she saw that my balance was $13. Then I went home and cut my nipple when I was shaving my chest. All I ask for is a mailbag. I need this.

— Jono, St. Louis

Based on the stories he's told about his upbringing, there is no way in hell Bill can relate to the idea of being broke. The nipple thing? Possib-lye.

Q: Which will last longer: The NFL lockout, or the time between Simmons mailbags?
— David C., NYC

Unfortunately the answer was not "the latter, because Simmons has been strapped to a leftover space shuttle launch rocket and shot towards the sun."

Q: Please do a mailbag before Sasha Vujacic marries Maria Sharapova and the world ends.
— John, Omaha, NE

SG: I'll do you one better — how 'bout a mailbag every Friday for the next six weeks?


As always, these are actual e-mails from actual readers.

Some of the questions are so WACKY you'd think they were made up! But nope, turns out there are plenty of people out there who go to Vegas and pretend to have an invisible friend in their midst the whole time, or who think it's hilarious to scream and yell while doing everyday things because that makes you similar to Kevin Garnett or something.

Anyways this mailbag isn't really anything special, relative to the tired and trite crap he usually churns out. In fact, now that he's officially doing it for Grantland, it's about 5% less obnoxious that most of the questions and answers deal with mindless pop culture bullshit rather than sports. (Prominently featured in this edition: how about that Princess Kate? And how about her less attractive sister who is predictably declared to be the hotter sister by prongs like Bill who worship Klosterman and emulate his practice of pointing out secretly super sneaky and counterintuitive stuff that is actually either 1) not sneaky/counterintuitive or 2) just plan wrong? Pretty compelling stuff, no?) Anyways, it's not an excessively horrid mailbag and I don't have a ton of time so there are just a couple things I'd like to bring to your attention.

Q: Grant Wahl thinks we should play the Women's World Cup every two years. You down with that idea?

SG: Absolutely. I couldn't get my 6-year-old daughter to watch the Women's World Cup until the second half of the final game … and by extra time, she was totally hooked.

Absolutely! Have I ever mentioned that I have kids?

She won't watch another meaningful women's soccer game until she's 10. How shortsighted is that?

How do the people in charge of FIFA sleep at night, knowing that they're depriving my not-caring-about-soccer daughter of the opportunity to watch more soccer?

In general, we need to reconfigure these schedules: The Olympics and the World Cup should happen every three years so we could have something this&

Typo alert! Grantland's editors don't hold a candle to the big boys at the parent company. But hey, it's a minor miracle the site is still running at all given the people who are behind it. I'll cut them some slack. Also, I've already talked about how breathtakingly dumb this idea is, but it's been a year. I'm happy to do it again.

2012 (summer): Summer Olympics
2013 (summer): Men's World Cup
2014 (February): Winter Olympics
2014 (summer): Women's World Cup
2015 (summer): Summer Olympics
2016 (summer): Men's World Cup
2017 (February): Winter Olympics
2017 (summer): Women's World Cup

Beyond the entertainment value of having at least one major event every year, did you ever wonder why we decided on the "every four years" thing in the first place?

Because it's a fantastic international spectacle that's difficult to plan, extremely expensive to execute, should have the "specialness" associated with having to wait four years for the next one, and because the ancient olympics took place every four years?

The modern Summer Olympics started in 1896 and settled on a four-year format for one simple reason … it was 1896!

And because the ancient games were on an every four years schedule and the modern organizers wanted to replicate that. AND BECAUSE THEY WERE CONSPIRING TO DEPRIVE BILL'S CHILDREN OF PRECIOUS CHILDHOOD MEMORIES OF SPORTS THEY DIDN'T KNOW EXISTED.

There were no airplanes! Back in 1896, it was really, really, REALLY hard for anyone to get to Athens unless, you know, they lived in Greece. The Games took time to catch on because of travel and the no-television thing; when St. Louis hosted the 1904 Summer Olympics, 580 of the 650 athletes were Americans. In 1921, they decided it was weird to include figure skating and hockey in the Summer Olympics, so they spun those events off into a Winter Olympics (along with new events such as skiing, speed skating, ski jumping, etc.) that launched in 1924 in France with the same every-four-years format because, again, we didn't exactly have United and Virgin around back then.

Look, I can summarize what I read on Wikipedia! And of course, because we CAN do something differently now because of technology, that definitely means that we should. I for one am tired of umpires- let's get an automated strike zone set up ASAP. There is no way that system will have any problems or make baseball less enjoyable.

The Olympics didn't really become THE OLYMPICS until 1936, when Berlin hosted the Summer Games during Hitler's Nazi regime, leading to America's whole "should we boycott?" debate (it didn't), Jesse Owens' laying the smack down (as Hitler watched from the stands) and the Olympics finally reaching its athletic/political/cultural/social potential... only we were stuck with the every-four-years gimmick at that point.

Tommy Craggs thinks you're a fucking dunderhead for pretending that anything at all relevant or interesting happened during the Berlin Olympics.

And it's been that way ever since. Why? Because of the always-dangerous, "That's the way we've always done it!" logic.

No, it's been that way for many other compelling reasons and should not change. But let's get to the apex of the dumbfuckery in this mailbag, presented by Bill Foster Wallace in a footnote to the preceding sentence.

I wrote this in my NBA book when I was trying to blow up the Basketball Hall of Fame: "Few arguments cause more problems than this one: Come on, that's the way we've always done it! When those nine words become the sole reason for keeping something intact, it's a bigger red flag than the one Nikolai Volkoff waved. Change is good. Change leads to hockey masks for goalies,

So having more Olympics because that would be fun for Bill, which means it's a perfect analog to a change that was made to keep guys from being hit in the eye sockets with hockey pucks.

wheels for suitcases,

And a change made because of innovation in the realm of consumer goods

baby seats for little kids

And a change made to prevent people from dying

and seats atop the Green Monster.

SEATS ON THE MONSTAHHHH! BRETT FACKIN' GAHHHHDNAHHHH CAN HEAR US TAUNTING HIM ALL GAME FROM UP THEY-AH BUT HE CAN'T DO SHIT ABOUT IT! This is a change made because it helps the people who made it make more money. In that sense it's almost identical to the idea of having the olympics more often, as long as you replace the word "make" with "lose." (And yes I know the IOC probably has the power to make the games happen every three years if they want, and that the members of the governing body could gain from that. But given what a bunch of greedy twats they are, don't you think they might have already done that if they could get away with it?)

Change leads to iTunes, breast implants, 'Madden' video games, Tommy John surgery, plasma televisions, BlackBerrys, podcasts …"

People who spend money on personal items have the ability to generate change in the markets for those items by demanding certain products and being willing to pay a certain amount for them. So all we need to do is turn the Olympics into a publicly traded company, have the shareholders demand that they happen every three years, and we can expect to see the exact same results that the cell phone and video game markets have seen in the last 20 years! Swell.

Going every three years would be more entertaining, generate more money,

Sound effect goes here

give us a better measure of who mattered the most during a 10-year window,

No one except idiots like you who know nothing about sports think this is important.

and do a better job of capturing athletes as they're peaking.

Oh brother.

Here's a great example: Carl Lewis started peaking in 1982, dominated the 1984 Olympics (when Russia and so many others never showed), then got robbed of his rightful glory in 1988 when Ben Johnson showed up in Seoul with more drugs in his system than every 1999 Home Run Derby contestant combined. By the 1992 Games, Carl Lewis wasn't totally Carl Lewis anymore; from 1983 to 1991, he won six golds in the Olympics and another eight at the World Championships (nailing the 100-meter dash and the 4x100-meter relay every time, and long jump every time except 1991), then two golds in the 1992 Olympics and one gold in 1996. So really, the apex of someone who has to be considered the best sprinter/long jumper ever only coincided with two tainted Olympics and that's that. How was that fair?

And of course, sports should be all about being fair towards athletes. You know, Dan Marino never got to play in a Super Bowl during his prime. Ken Griffey Jr. never got to play in the World Series at all. Every World Cup qualifying period, a top UEFA team chokes away a game or two ends up missing the main draw while some crappy CONCACAF team makes the draw and gets embarrassed in all three of their group stage matches. None of those things seem fair, you know? I think we should change the rules so that none of those injustices can ever happen again. Sorry, Red Sox/Yankees/Rangers- we're putting the Mariners in the World Series this year because if we don't King Felix might never get to play there during his prime. Tough nuts to you guys, you had your chance during the past four seasons. We're all about fairness now.

Every four years gives little flexibility for someone getting screwed over by an injury or accident (Mary Decker), a fluke stinker of a performance (Dan and Dave), a boycott (any of the 1980 Summer Olympians) or even a random attack by a competitor (Nancy Kerrigan). Just watch Without Limits, for God's sake — how was it fun for us as sports fans to watch Steve Prefontaine get boxed in during his gold-medal race in 1972 and settle for fourth, then wait another four years for his redemption (which never came)? If you can come up with a good reason why it shouldn't be every three years, I'm all ears.

So stupid that my mind is boggling as I contemplate even beginning to formulate a specific response. Saying that the Dan O'Brien/Dave Johnson rivalry failure in 1992 means that we should have the Olympics more often is perhaps the worst possible argument you could make in support of this awful position. I'm truly flabbergasted. Dave didn't qualify for the Olympics... which shows that (that year at least) he didn't belong at the damn Olympics. You can't accept a hyped-up advertising campaign as the basis for your position and then reason that because the hype wasn't fulfilled, there is something wrong with the system. The system is not in place to reinforce hype. It's there to make things MORE fair. Holy Jesus on a fucking pogo stick, how fucking clueless is this guy? Probably about as Clueless as Alicia Silverstone! /high fives self

One last point before I go.

Q: You tweeted a link to Kobe's Turkish Airlines ad and asked "'Why does Kobe peek at the chef's ass?' has replaced 'Why does MJ have a Hitler mustache?' as No. 1 weirdest ad subplot." You realize Kobe was actually watching the guy limp away, right? Or do you just hate Kobe so much that you see what you want to see?
--JB, Van Nuys, CA

SG: I just watched the clip 24 straight times. Six of the times, it seemed like he was watching the guy limp away. You might be right, JB. You might be right.

If there is a better example of pathetic trash talk than Bill's BURNTASTIC roasting of Kobe for shooting 25% from the field in a game in which 1) the two teams combined to shoot 35% from the field and score 162 points 2) only one starter on each team shot above 46% from the field 3) Kobe scored 23 points, grabbed 15 rebounds, and 4) also made a bunch of clutch FTs down the stretch as his team clinched a motherfucking title after being down at the half in a game seven, I haven't come across it. It's not just a really sad train wreck of bullet trains full of sour grapes. It's patently unclever. LOL SIX FOR TWENTY FOUR HARF HARF HARF WHY DID HE WIN MVP THAT'S SO DUMM

Kobe can eat a fucking dick and all, but Bill makes me smile a little every time Kobe succeeds.


Biggus Rickus said...

Breast implants are a good technological innovation? Really?

Tyler said...

I love that Simmons uses Carl Lewis, who won gold medals at FOUR SEPARATE OLYMPICS, as an example of how unfair it is to athletes that the Games are so spread apart. It's like he barely had any career at all!

Chris W said...

I was thinking the same thing Ruckus.

Also, here is how not to do logic:

Boy that women's world cup was sure exciting. I really like how amped up and dedicated these players are for this event because it only happens every four years. Also, it is a unique experience to be able to cheer for my country vs other countries! I am excited for that unique experience. In conclusion this event would be better if it happened more often

Adam said...



ivn said...

Bill's "the World Cup should be played more often!" shtick drives me nuts because it proves he doesn't know anything about soccer. Pro soccer players already play a club season, multiple club tournaments, federation tournaments (Euro Cup, Gold Cup, etc) and the qualifiers for them, on top the World Cup and the WC qualifiers. if you squeezed that into a shorter time period like Bill wants it would be insane. I'm pretty sure we'd see a lot more injuries.

cs said...

I read his mailbag this weekend and completely missed his 6 for 24 reference. Wow, Bill is STILL referencing this? If the Celtics won, it'd be, I suppose, a justified dig. But in the real world he just sounds like a petulant asshole.

JimA said...

"Sike" is a common misspelling of slang term "psych", which is short for "psyched out". It can be used at the end of a statement intended to psychologically cause its recipient to be taken off guard or aback.

Tim N said...

I thought it was "Kike" and was wondering when Larry B turned anti-semitic.


(unless she gets implants and poses in Playboy)