Thursday, August 30, 2012

Bill Simmons: frontrunner, liar, shithead

In the midst of one of the best Red Sox pity parties I've ever read (and we all know Bill has been responsible for dozens of them if you count tweets), Bill tries to sell us some snake oil. 

I wanted to name our newborn son "Beckett" right after the Red Sox won the 2007 World Series. If not for a reader intervening, my son might be named Beckett Simmons right now. We could start there. 

It's pathetic but not uncommon for people to name their kids after local sports heroes.  "Here's an unremarkable anecdote with no context: we could start there" is shitty writing. 

The Red Sox have trotted out eight "superstar" hitters in my lifetime: Carl Yastrzemski, Fred Lynn, Jim Rice, Mo Vaughn, Nomar Garciaparra, David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez and Adrian Gonzalez. 


The first seven guys played a combined 83 seasons in Boston. Gonzalez lasted 21 months. We could start there. 

Yeah, that really says something about something.  That would definitely be a great place for us to start... understanding... stuff.

My favorite baseball team just traded its best offensive player and a proven playoff starter in a massive salary dump that had no correlation to anything that's ever happened in Red Sox history except for … you know … the time we sold Babe Ruth. 

STET AWL CHANGES! STET AWL CHANGES! Maybe if Bill let himself be edited, the word "correlation" would have been changed to "comparison" as he intended. Instead we have a sentence that says that a 2012 trade has nothing to do with anything else that's ever happened to the Red Sox, except the sale of a player 90ish years earlier. 

Somehow, Red Sox fans are delighted about the trade. We could start there. 

Why wouldn't they be? The Red Sox haven't won a World Series in five years. Obviously it was time for heads to roll. FACK YOU JAWSH!  I SHOULDA NEVAH ALMOST NAMED MY SON AFTAH YOU

The current Red Sox owners brought us our first championship since 1918 and a second title three years later. Since last October, they've replaced the most successful Red Sox manager in 90 years with the least-liked Red Sox manager of my lifetime not named "Grady Little." 

It's picking nits, but I'm pretty sure Valentine has had a lower approval rating since May than Little had at any point except the 24 hours following game 7 of the 2003 ALCS. 

They've allowed the franchise's most successful general manager ever to break his contract without getting anything decent for him. 

Chris W disagrees with me, but I think Epstein is massively overrated. He basically inherited the 2004 WS team, and the only big move he made to set up the 2007 was to overpay for Matsuzaka. He's also got a spotty drafting record. I do think the moves he made to set up the 2011 and 2012 teams were generally smart, and I'm not saying he's talentless. I'll just be surprised if he creates a consistent winner in Chicago. I think he's a middle of the road GM. ANYWAYS back to the tardery. 

They've assembled one of the league's three most expensive rosters, failed miserably, then lucked out when the Dodgers miraculously handed them a RESET button. And now, headed for the worst Red Sox season in 20 solid years but blessed with financial flexibility again, these owners expect fans to (a) pretend the past two years never happened, and (b) trust their big-picture judgment again. We could start there. 

Pro sports owners don't "expect" fans to do anything other than spend money for the product they pay to put on the field. I sincerely doubt that at any time in the 21st century the owner of a big four pro sports team has sat in his office, wringing his hands and sweating, timidly murmuring "But how will I get the fans to TRUST me again?" They are there to make money, and in most cases they do that by trying to create a winning team. Hell, even the Pirates are going that route these days. The perceived relationship Boston fans imagine they have with their teams' executives (ROBERT KRAFT IS AN AWNEST BUSINESSMAN WHO WANTS THE BEST FOR AWWWL OF NEW ENGLAND! I KNOW FROM THE WAY HE SMILES ON TV!) is so fucking pathetic. 

You know what? Let's start

Yes, Jesus on a fucking pogo stick, just start already.

with this e-mail from a Cambridge reader named Kyle, which arrived just a few days before the Red Sox agreed to the biggest salary dump in baseball history. 

"I think I've officially reached a point in my sports fan relationship with the Red Sox akin to being married for twenty years, no longer loving one another, but still staying together for the kids. Good God can this season just end?" 

Fuck you directly in the frontrunningest part of your frontrunning ass, Kyle. I hope you get rickets.

Even if Kyle made the 2012 season sound like a cross between John Travolta's marriage, Jay Leno's relationship with NBC, 


and every Adam Sandler fan with Adam Sandler, he probably didn't go far enough. After all, you are in a relationship with your favorite teams, right? 

In the sense that you enjoy when they do well and feel bad when they do poorly, yes. In the sense that you feel like they owe you something (other than due care needed to minimize the chances of you sustaining terrible injuries when you attend one of their games, Columbus Blue Jackets I'm looking at you, or is that too soon?), no, absolutely not. 

We purchase tickets


and merchandise; they purchase the players. We agree to remain loyal; they agree not to defecate on that loyalty. And it goes from there. 

It goes from "you can choose to root for your teams or not root for them," you fucking zilch. There is no magical fan/owner loyalty contract involved. 

The best-case scenario for any season? Winning the title. The worst-case scenario? 

Going more than 12 months between titles for any of your city's teams! So taxing! 

Hate-watching your team while rooting for things to bottom out in a comically dreadful way just so you can remain entertained. 

Good to hear that Red Sox fans have decided to mirror the feelings of everyone else on the planet re: their team this year.

The 2012 Red Sox reached that point a few weeks ago. And look, I get it — listening to Boston fans bitch about sports is like listening to John Mayer bitch about his love life.
This was accompanied by the following faux-self-aware-actually-totally-oblivious footnote: 

We won seven titles in 10 years. Over that same time, we endured five of the most brutal playoff defeats in Boston sports history (the Aaron Boone Game, Super Bowl XLII, Super Bowl XLVI, the 2006 AFC championship game and Game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals), and trust me, Game 7 of the 2008 ALCS and Game 6 of the 2012 Heat-Celtics series weren't exactly a barrel of laughs. I can't imagine any fan base has experienced more extreme highs and lows over a 10-year span.

I'll let the writer I most frequently rip off take this one:

Hey, you know what? GO TO HELL. Every fan goes through highs and lows, and yours are no more special than anyone else's. If I hear one more goddamn Boston fan say, "This may be the least likable team in Red Sox history!" I'll shit in their coffee. No one gives a fuck where this Red Sox team ranks on your imaginary historical likability scale. You are not the sun around which the rest of the sporting solar system revolves. Why don't you go beat off to Ben Affleck wearing every Boston sports jersey in The Town and quit smothering the rest of the country with your insufferable bullshit? All of you are horrible and diseased.

Nobody was more overdue for a hatefully expensive, totally unredeeming, insane clusterfuck of a season more than Red Sox fans. We knew it, too. We could handle a lousy season. 

No, clearly you cannot. 

It happens. 

And gives us a chance to concoct lies about how we're not a bunch of frontrunners. 

But something deeper was happening here. The Red Sox had morphed into something else. 

/steam pouring out of Larry B's ears 

Fuck each and every last person who read that and even briefly considered agreeing with it. 

Once upon a time, the phrase "Red Sox fan" carried clear responsibilities and implications. 

[joke about Boston's racism here] 

You loved something that, ultimately, was going to break your heart. You pined for a World Series title that was never going to happen. 

Life was hahhhhhhhd! So hahhhhd, especially when your city was unable (for obvious reasons) to enjoy the greatest dynasty in modern American sports history as it unfolded just down the road from Fenway in the Gahhhhhhden. 

You talked yourself into this being "The Year" every spring, and then, every September … it didn't happen. You watched family members pass away without ever seeing the Red Sox win a title. You wondered if it was cruel to saddle your children with this franchise, whether you should "save" them by nudging them in a different direction. 

And then everything turned. We won the World Series, shed the curse, buried some demons, 

came to the collective conclusion that we deserve to have a World Series contender each and every single season, or else cry and bitch to anyone dumb enough to listen about the cross we carry, 

moved on with our lives. Had you asked any Red Sox fan in September 2004, "If you win the World Series, would you care what happened next?," I'm pretty sure that every single person would say, "No, I don't." 

Well, here's what happened. 

Brace yourselves. 

We started spending money like the Yankees. Our charming, broken-down, illogically constructed museum of a baseball park was overhauled and turned into a cash cow 

How dare they put in more seats when there is tremendous demand for tickets! 

(same for the streets surrounding it). 

What could he even be bitching about? I've never been to a game there. Is the team holding pregame events on the streets outside the stadium? Are local businesses advertising their support for the Red Sox in an attempt to attract customers? THE NERVE. 

The owners relentlessly pimped the Red Sox brand inside the stadium, on their website, on their 24-hour TV channel, on your street, in your house, 


/Bill buys $400 seats to [the next Red Sox/Yankees series] 

on your forehead 

Wait, did he just bitch about the team putting its logo on hats? 

and everywhere else you could imagine (leading to a general dumbing down of the fan base 

To the extent that the fan base could have somehow gotten dumber after 2004, I'm pretty sure it happened because some people are fucking frontrunners who just want to cheer for a winner even if they know nothing about the team or the game being played. I'm even more pretty sure that it didn't happen as a result of Red Sox ownership expanding their marketing efforts. 

and the unconscionable decision to encourage Fenway fans to sing along to "Sweet Caroline" during the eighth inning of every game, even ones that we're losing), only we looked the other way because they kept funneling so much of their profits back into the team. There were little signs they might be losing their way, 


like when they purchased Liverpool's soccer team and expected Red Sox fans to adopt it; 


or when John Henry publicly regretted Carl Crawford's lavish contract in only his first season, then randomly showed up on a local radio show to defend himself; 

Good to know Bill uses "randomly" in the same incorrect way college girls do. 

or when they unveiled their 100th aniversary Fenway Park brick program, satiating the three people who had been dying to spend $475 (plus tax) to autograph their own brick inside Fenway. 

Every team has about 10 obnoxious money grabs going at any particular time. Leave it to a Red Sox fan to classify one of them as evidence that ownership is "losing their way." 

Nobody really cared until the Red Sox finished the biggest September swoon in baseball history — 

Nobody really stopped to ask any questions about all these things that are happening around the league to every single team/fanbase in one way or another, until the team had the audacity to not win all the time. 

we'd eventually remember it as the "beer and fried chicken team," 

Because of course you dickholes think that had everything to do with the team's collapse. 

and really, that's all you need to know — 


followed by Terry Francona being smeared in a Boston Globe feature a few days after he stepped down as manager. When Theo Epstein fled a few weeks later, for the first time, Red Sox fans started examining these last eight years the same way you look at a massive dinner check. You know when you go out with a bunch of friends, order food and drinks for three hours, never worry about anything, and then there's that moment when the check comes and everyone's passing it around in disbelief? That's for us? Did you think it was going to be that high? That was last winter for Red Sox fans. The waiter finally dropped off that monstrosity of a check. 

Say Papelbon closes out the Orioles in game 162 and the Rays don't complete a once-or-twice-a-season comeback against the Yankees. Then the Sox lose to the Rangers in 4 games in the ALDS. Imagine the pulse of Red Sox nation then! I know it sounds like lunacy, but I want to go out on a limb and say that stumpfuckers like Bill wouldn't have been blabbering any of this "the ownership group lost its way, there are too many ads in Fenway" nonsense. Maybe if they subsequently bombed out in 2012, there would be whispers, but still, nothing approaching the pile of dinosaur shit you've been reading. Let me make this as simple as possible: the Red Sox stopped being excellent for like 16 months. Red Sox fans are huge frontrunners so this greatly distressed them. But no one wants to cop to their frontrunnerism, and so Bill is speaking for what is likely a large chunk of them and making up lies to cover that frontrunnerism. He's about to really get into it, so allow me to translate. 

Yup … we had turned into the New York Yankees, the team we always hated the most. 

Opening day payrolls by year (MLB rank out of 30 teams in parentheses)

NYY $182 MM (1) 
BOS $125 MM (2)

NYY $189 MM (1)
BOS $143 MM (2)

NYY $206 MM (1)
BOS $162 MM (2)

NYY $201 MM (1)
BOS $161 MM (3)

Only then did the Red Sox become the Yankees!

We spent money just as recklessly and senselessly. 

On players who didn't deliver postseason success. 

The fan bases for other teams despised us just as much. 

Well of course. 

We had the same "If you don't win the title, you've totally failed" conundrum staring at us every spring. 

I find it hard to cheer for a team that doesn't win titles. 

A few weeks ago, my wife was watching Pretty Woman for the 10,000th time while I was sitting next to her answering e-mails. 


The scene came on when millionaire Richard Gere decides to save that shipping company instead of purchasing it just to blow it up, when Jason Alexander (totally evil) questions what they're doing, and then Gere says something like, "I'm tired of making money. I want to build something." My head popped right up. Wasn't that the Red Sox? 

I'm so distressed by my team's five year title drought that I'm trying to cover up my frontrunnerism by applying a completely uninspiring and inapplicable quote from a romantic comedy. 

What were we building? What's fun about rooting for a team of staggeringly overpaid players who were collected with little rhyme or reason? 

If they don't win titles? (I also like the idea that the 2012 Red Sox roster was assembled "with little rhyme or reason." WHY SIGN THE TWO BEST POSITION PLAYER FREE AGENTS IN THE 2010-2011 OFFSEASON CLASS AT POSITIONS OF NEED FOR THE TEAM? WHAT WERE YOU THINKING, EPSTEIN?) 

The Red Sox spent $173.2 million on this year's roster— 

A roster that won't be winning the World Series— 

you couldn't separate the money from the performance. 

You couldn't separate the fact that they were being paid salaries (that were for the most part) determined by the going market value of baseball players, and yet were not leading the division. 

Not for a second. It lingered over everything like a stale fart. Throw in the team's general unlikability

Throw in the team's inability to win at a .600 clip 

(especially Beckett, who regarded the fans and media with real contempt) 

Especially Beckett, after whom I almost named my kid, you know, BACK WHEN HE WAS HELPING THE RED SOX WIN TITLES, HOLY SHIT BILL, HOW ARE YOU THIS OBLIVIOUS 

and for the first time I can remember, Red Sox fans were hate-watching games much like you'd hate-watch Teen Mom or something. Well, who wants to spend three-plus hours a day hate-watching something? If you wanted to enjoy a Red Sox game in 2012, you had to get stoned, break out the 2004 and 2007 DVDs, put in one of the most exciting games and pretend it was happening in real time. 

I have never been so embarrassed about someone else's fandom. It's a new low for Bill here on FireJay, which of course is saying a lot. I can't finish this shit.


cs said...

You didn't make it to the most fantastic part of his column, his usual 10th grade attempt at poetically ending his pieces:

"Don't get me wrong — I want to live in a world in which we could name our children after our favorite athletes without worrying about the consequences. I just don't think it exists."

Haha Holy Shit.

jacktotherack said...

What a whiny twat

Slade said...

To be fair, Epstein didn't "inherit" the '04 team. When he became GM in 2003, the team didn't have Curt Schilling, Keith Foulke, David Ortiz, Bill Mueller, or Dave Roberts, all of whom were major parts of the 2004 team. Yes, they had several of those players, like Manny Ramirez, Johnny Damon, Pedro Martinez, Derek Lowe, Trot Nixon, and Jason Varitek, but the 2004 Red Sox don't sniff the title without Ortiz, Schilling, or Foulke.

Chris W said...


Couldn't have said it better...without...myself*. Also, apparently Larry thinks trading for Beckett and Lowell was part of the Matsuzaka signing.

*for the LAKERS

ivn said...

he also drafted Pedroia, Papelbon, and Ellsbury, who were fairly important parts of the 2007 championship team.

BR said...

Is it possible for Simmons to finally alienate his readership and be made to go away? My guess is he might go away if he became rich enough. I find his repetitive use of the same four or five gimmicks in his writing to be infuriating. I would relish the opportunity to wipe the self satified smirk off his face with say a rubber mallet or a hurling stick. I should insert an obscure reference here to a 1971 episode of "The Hilarious of Frightenstein" -see it's easy to be like Bill.

BR said...

I guess Bill has more talent than I thought. That reference should have been "The Hilarious House of Frightenstein".

Adam said...

So Bill hates that the Red Sox "have become the Yankees", yet he wants them to compete for a World Series and have star players every year - in other words - become the Yankees.

Anonymous said...

This Simmons character is still in high school, apparently. The worthless crap he writes isn't even as good as what you would expect to read in some high school newspaper, and I am not exaggerating. Mot of all, he's excruciatingly boring, and the crap he drivels on with endlessly (although he most likely thinks it as "witty") only confirms my point. Right now, I'm sloshed after drinking a half case of Guinness, and I can still write more effectively than he can, which is not saying much at all.