Monday, February 18, 2013

Bill Simmons revisits one of the stupidest things he's ever written, somehow makes it even stupider, part 1

I spent quite a bit of time this weekend on this long, meandering, whining post about Justin Upton, home/road splits and park factors.  I probably got 75% of the way through it, re-read it, decided it sucked, and didn't publish it.  Maybe I will try to rework it and publish it later this week.  Long story short, Upton has spent his whole career in a very good hitter's park and has very extreme home/road splits (.250/.325/.406 lifetime on the road).  Of course many hitters have significant home/road splits, but those road numbers are flat out shitty.  And the reason I wanted to rant about it on this far-reaching platform is that pretty much no one brought this up while he was on the block or after he was traded to Atlanta.

This doesn't bother me in and of itself--it just bothers me because I'm a Rockies fan (yes, I know you don't give a shit), and any time a Rockies hitter is up for a postseason award, or is on the trading block (as Carlos Gonzalez was rumored to be last season), the immediate response from every baseball writer and casual fan in the fucking country is LOL COORZ FIELD THIS GUY ACTUALLY SUX HE WOULD HIT .100 WITH 2 HRS AT SEE LEVEL.  And God that just makes me want to commit arson.  Especially when a guy like Upton, who hits like an AAAA player anywhere not called Chase Field, is crowned biggest acquisition of the offseason coming off a year in which he accumulated 2 rWAR and OPSed .670 on the road.  You can see how turning that into a 2000 word post might get very tedious, and for considering posting a much longer version of this tripe, I am a true shitdick.  I apologize for making you read even this much about it.  In summary, my life is very difficult and I deserve a medal for getting out of bed every morning.

Anyways, on to something you might actually want to read about.

The Ewing Theory is completely and totally fucking idiotic.  It's at or near the top of the list of most idiotic things ever to come from the brain of one of sports media's biggest idiots.  For every example of a time when a team lost a star player and then played great the rest of the season/the next season, there are like four hundred examples of teams losing star players and then not being nearly as good the rest of the season/the next season.  It's so basic in its stupidity that I feel like I am patronizing you just by explaining what's wrong with it.  Nevertheless, it continues to be referenced by Bill and the mouthbreathers who adore him like it's deserving of serious attention and reflection, because Bill and his mouthbreathers have the critical thinking skills of goldfish.  And now that the Celtics have played pretty well for nine games after losing Rajon Rondo, he's revisiting his theory in what I can only guess is an attempt to make my brain explode.  Game on.  (My posting volume is way down lately, not that you noticed or cared.  In an effort to jumpstart my blogging, I'll try going after this article in a bunch of smaller pieces.  In theory this is part 1 of many.)

When we learned about Rajon Rondo's season-ending injury during ABC's Heat-Celtics game on January 27, every Celtics fan had the same reaction: 


So long, Puncher's Chance At Making The Eastern Finals.

You misspelled "so long, puncher's chance at getting out of the first round."

We zipped through the seven stages of grief in about 45 minutes, barely noticing that the Celtics were playing better without Rondo. 

No, you barely noticed or mourned because the Celtics weren't playing well at the time and you're a bunch of frontrunners.  Besides, PITCHAHS AND CATCHAHS!  

For once, they looked like a vintage Garnett-Pierce era Celtics team again. 

Except for the fact that they were missing the point guard who was the catalyst for all of those teams.

No more mailing in quarters, no more rolling over defensively, 

The Celtics, with Rajon "Patrick Ewing" Rondo in the lineup, were 7th in the league in defensive efficiency at the time he got hurt.  To be fair, since then they are 1st in defensive efficiency, although their schedule has featured a bunch of cupcakes as well as a Bulls team not known for offensive prowess.  I do have to hand it to them for their victories over the Nuggets and Clippers, those are legit offensive teams.  The Celtics are certainly playing better defense than they were, but it was already pretty good before the injury and it's certainly a little early to say Rondo's departure is the reason for the improvement.

no more 22-second possessions followed by ghastly 20-footers. 

OK, I watch enough nationally televised Celtics game to know that this happens from time to time.  Just like it does with all teams who have a ball-dominant PG.

They fended off LeBron and the LeBronettes in double overtime with help from a rollicking, old-school Boston crowd 

The next time he forgets to mention THE LEGENDARY BEANTOWN FAITHFUL while describing an important Celtics win at home will the first.  His self-obsession (extended to include people who like the same teams as him--I'm using the term loosely and somewhat incorrectly but you know what I mean) is just... so... draining.

that learned about the severity of Rondo's injury through tweets and texts. 


And somewhere along the line, more than a few Celtics fans e-mailed me or tweeted me the same two words.
Ewing Theory???

All of these people should be thrown down a mine shaft.

Could it be? 

No, it couldn't be.  You goddamn fools.  They are 8-1 since his injury, but only two of those wins have come on the road (in Toronto and Charlotte, two places where there were probably more Celtics fans than home team fans in the arena).  Four of the wins have come against playoff teams, but by a combined 10 points.  Winning close games isn't exactly all luck and no skill, but even the best teams don't consistently win a huge percentage of the one possession games they end up in.  What has happened is not that the Celtics are better without one of the game's 20 best players--rather, they lost him right as they hit a soft spot in the schedule and also eked out a bunch of close wins at home over the good teams that they did play.  They have 9 of their next 11 on the road, including games in Denver, Utah, Portland, Indiana and Oklahoma City, all nasty places to play.  Just watch: they will go like 4-7 or 5-6 over that span, fall back into the 8th spot in the East, and Bill will be saying I ALWAYS TOLD YOU RONDO WAS THE HAHHHHHT AND SOUL OF THIS TEAM.  I CANNOT WATCH ANYMO-AH THIS SEASON, IT'S SIMPLY TOO HAHD WITH HIM OUT.  And then the Heat will eventually sweep them 4-0 in the first round, and I will laugh.  But sorry, back to what you were saying, captain confirmation bias.

We started picking apart Rondo's game in our heads, even if most of us absolutely loved the guy.  And believe me — I love the guy. Had I gotten another dog between 2010 and 2012, 

Please, God yes.  Tell us more about your fucking dogs and your family.  We're already a whole 100 words into this column--how have they not come up yet?

I absolutely would have named him "Rondo." That's my dude. Other than Larry Legend, he's the most original basketball player I have ever watched on a day-to-day basis. 

I'd accuse him of using "original" as a backhanded compliment with racial undertones, but he preempted me with the Bird thing.  Damn.

There will never be a Rondo 2.0. Unfortunately, there will always be Basic Cable Rondo and National TV Rondo.

Ooh, an UNDERAPPRECIATED (/writes royalties check to Klosterman) Simmons staple: the meaningless "tale of two players" nicknames that you're supposed to think are super insightful.

Basic Cable Rondo gets bored easily. He pads his assist totals just to see if he can. 

This is not a thing that happens with pro athletes.  This is the basketball equivalent of accusing a baseball player of hitting selfish home runs when the game is already out of reach.

He goes entire games without ever driving to the hoop or drawing a foul. He shoots 3s even though he should never, ever, EVER be shooting 3s. He pounds the ball 25 feet away from the basket for no good reason, 

OK, I'm legitimately sensing the racial undertones there.

frowns a little too often, 

If only he were more like Tony Romo, leading the league in smiles!

only makes teammates better on his terms. 


He cheats passing lanes and gambles for steals too much. 

That's, like, 70% of all point guards in the NBA.

He pretends to lead without really leading. 

Never, in a trillion years, could you accurately make that assessment as a fan.  Never.  Never ever.  I hate Rondo and yet I feel bad for him after reading that.  Just a brutal driveby on his character with zero substantiation.  I hope Bill gets shingles.

He's on hyperfocused cruise control, basically. 

That means nothing, basically, and you should never end a sentence basically.  You are a shitty writer.

The worst thing about Basic Cable Rondo? You know when he shows up. Right away. Within three minutes of the opening tip.


But National TV Rondo? Sweet Jesus do I love that guy. 

He plays the game the right way!  He is a lunchpail guy!  He doesn't depend on his athleticism too much!  He plays smart!  Am I using enough coded language yet?

He's a walking triple-double. He's a beast. He's one of the best eight or nine players alive. You could give National TV Rondo four mediocre teammates and he could hang with any contender. Shit, that's practically what happened in the Eastern finals last spring — Garnett and Pierce were worn down from the shortened season, so was Ray Allen, and nobody else on the team was worth a damn except Brandon Bass. The Celtics came within one victory of beating LeBron in his prime. That's why you put up with Basic Cable Rondo — because National TV Rondo knocks your team's ceiling up a couple floors.

Let me tell you how much I hate Bill Simmons.  I hate him so much than when sports journalism's biggest fucking asshole (a difficult title to hold, to be sure) Mike Wilbon routinely and unfairly abuses Simmons on ESPN's NBA pregame show, I actually take Wilbon's side.  And I DESPISE Wilbon.  If you've never seen what I'm talking about, check it out this Friday.  Wilbon talks to Simmons like Simmons is a 2nd grader who just learned the rules of basketball and can only name a handful of NBA players.  It's really rude.  And I'm totally cool with it.  Party on, Mike Wilbon.  May you only be fired and sent the way of Jay Mariotti once you're done embarrassing Simmons on national TV.

Part 2 soon.


Anonymous said...

The "Ewing Theory" is the craziest idea or concept that Simmons has ever come up with / ran with. It is a figment of his imagination. Ewing won a national championship at Georgetown and is one of the 50 best players in NBA history. Had it not been for MJ, he'd probably have won a title or two (certainly, this can be said for quite a few all-time greats), and the best players he ever played with are John Starks and Charles Oakley. All that aside, the actual theory that the Knicks somehow played better without him is utter nonsense and (as SG explains) comes from the '99 season when he went down in the Eastern Conference Finals. He got hurt in game 2 against the Pacers and the Knicks managed to win 3 of the next 4 and make it to the finals . . . where they were routed, 4 games to 1. To make this perfectly clear, one of (THE?) SG's biggest and most famous ideas (that his moronic friend "Dave" came up with) is based on the Knicks, losing Patrick Ewing, their franchise center and, somehow, willing themselves to go 4-5 in their next 9 games against the Pacers and Spurs. Ladies and gentlemen, The Ewing Theory!

jacktotherack said...

only makes teammates better on his terms.

Seriously, what the fuck does that even mean? I've been staring at those words for 10 minutes and can't begin to imagine what Simmons is trying to say. He passes selfishly? He throws bad passes on purpose? I have no idea...

Lucien DeBlois said...

Another blogger recently made an observation that he felt Simmons wanted to move on from writing to bigger and better things. He pointed to the lack of new Simmons column ideas as a possible sign that writing has become a chore for Billy Boy. The recycling of old (and as you so astutely note) lame ideas is a manifestation of his ennui.

Funny you should mention Wilbon, who I too have grown to despise. At first, I felt sorry for him being overmatched mentally by smug Tony Kornheiser on PTI. As the years have gone by Wilbon has miraculously come to believe he is not a lucky FUCKING IDIOT but instead a sports savant. I have never listened to the pregame show but I obviously fucked up and missed the chance to hear Simmons abused by a run of the mill tool.

Tim N said...

I would have named him Rondo, but I just couldn't force myself to bus in a black lab.

Gulag said...

Yeah, that always confused me about the "Ewing Theory." The Knicks didn't win a championship with Ewing and didn't win one without him either. So how are they better off, exactly?

Also, if the Knicks do win a title in the next few years and Simmons tries to claim "SEE?! I WAS RIGHT!! EWING THEORY!!!" I will garrote him with some piano wire.