Thursday, January 30, 2014

Mariotti vs. Simmons in an ethics-off. WHO YA GOT? (Part 2)

In which we learn nothing, because we already knew Mariotti was a sanctimonious, hypocritical dipshit and Simmons was a gigantic idiot.  (Also: I checked out the link tony harding put in the comments to the last post.  I don't know if there are enough sarcastic anti sports media bloggers on this planet to properly break that thing down.  I might get to it at some point and take a crack though.)

In a 2,720-word apology, Simmons tried to explain what the hell he was thinking. It sounded more like a plea to a lawyer to have mercy on him, 

If you so dare, check out the link from the comments I just discussed, specifically the part in which Jay addresses his legal problems.  It's fannnnnnntasTIC.

with Vanderbilt’s partner pondering legal options. Wrote Simmons, in a typically rambling stream of consciousness that felt like a tidal wave:

Least effective insult for Bill's writing I've ever seen.  

(We switch to Bill's writing at this point.)

“Once a few people nudged us and said, Hey, read it this way instead, you transphobic dumbasses, that lens looked totally different. Suddenly, a line like “a chill ran down my spine” — which I had always interpreted as “Jesus, this story is getting stranger?” (Caleb’s intent, by the way) — now read like, “Ew, gross, she used to be a man?” 

Yeah, I know, when I see something strange, like someone riding a unicycle, a chill usually goes down my spine too.  Strange = spine tingling.  Especially when the "strange" thing in question is a trans person.  EWWW!

Our lack of sophistication with transgender pronouns was so easily avoidable, it makes me want to punch through a wall. The lack of empathy in the last few paragraphs — our collective intent, and only because we believed that Caleb suddenly becoming introspective and emotional would have rung hollow 

"Why approach this issue with tact?  No one is going to believe us anyways.  Might as well just be crude and insensitive about it."

— now made it appear as if we didn’t care about someone’s life.

I wouldn't go that far.  I would just say that it made it appear that you were fucking morons, which you are, because you are Bill Simmons and people hired by Bill Simmons.

“We made one massive mistake. I have thought about it for nearly three solid days, and I’ve run out of ways to kick myself about it. How did it never occur to any of us? How? How could we ALL blow it? 

See above.

That mistake: Someone familiar with the transgender community should have read Caleb’s final draft. This never occurred to us. Nobody ever brought it up.”

That’s because Simmons shouldn’t be editing a website.

As I said last post, I don't disagree with Mariotti, but can you imagine the colossal fuckups that would happen on a consistent basis if Mariotti were editing something like Grantland?  Everyone involved would be fired within six months.  It would be the sports website equivalent of the Hindenburg crash.

“I don’t remember the exact moment when I realized that we definitely screwed up.

Could have been soon after the intense public backlash started, but that's just a guess.  It sure as hell wasn't anytime before that, because, as Simmons admits in his own apology, the article was published and available for several days before the whole thing came crashing down.  It took a little while for people to realize how fucked up the situation was because Grantland didn't promote the article particularly aggressively.

 … I am apologizing on our behalf right now. My condolences to Dr. V’s friends and family for any pain our mistakes may have caused. I spent my weekend alternating between feeling miserable, hating myself and wondering what we could have done differently,” he wrote.

I think he's being sincere.  I also still think he's a fucking tard.

“Ultimately, it was my call. So if you want to rip anyone involved in this process, please, direct your anger and your invective at me. Don’t blame Caleb or anyone that works for me. 

Actually, the author still deserves some blame.  Jesus, dude.  I haven't taken a course in journalistic ethics but I'm going to guess you fucked up at a number of points while researching this piece (not to mention while writing it--although those fuckups are admittedly more on the editors to fix).

It’s my site and anything this significant is my call. Blame me. I didn’t ask the biggest and most important question before we ran it — that’s my fault and only my fault.”

Again, this is sincere and heartfelt, but classic Simmons.  ME ME ME ME MY WEBSITE MINE ME ME ME.  While it's good to take accountability and apologize, Bill, you still manage to frame it in a way that lets everyone know you're convinced you're at the center of the fucking universe.  It's quite the skill you have.

(Now back to Jay.)

Actually, it also is the fault of the ESPN executives who have enabled Simmons. John Skipper and John Walsh have been partners for decades, going back to their Rolling Stone days, and they have honed the edgy feel 

ESPN has become grotesque and horrendous in a lot of ways, but it sure as hell isn't "edgy," unless you're a boring old shithead who hates the way teenagers wear their damn pants so low.

that has melded sports and entertainment at the Disney-owned leviathan. 

Points for identifying that the main thing wrong with ESPN is its constant need to meld sports and entertainment.  Negative points for using the word "edgy" in the previous half of the sentence, rather than "terrible."

But they also have been reckless in some personnel decisions, 


You know he wants that.  The internet indicates he's actually "back" with ESPN, doing freelance stuff, something I hadn't heard about.  But when you're as egotistical and bombastic as Jay is, I get the feeling nothing can replace the sweet sweet sound of your own voice coming out of the idiot box.  May the powers above (the football gods lol) spare us from ever having to experience this again.

and it now seems that once a week, a high-profile commentator is immersed in a mess about something. I don’t mean Skip Bayless ticking off Richard Sherman. I mean Dan Le Batard, mindlessly handing over his Baseball Hall of Fame ballot to an amateur-hour website and prompting questions about his lack of professionalism. 


Oh Jay.  You are the fucking best.  Independent of how fantastically hilarious it is that Jay would accuse anyone else of lack of professionalism, I like how he puts this on ESPN's executives.  LE BATARD WAS A TICKING TIME BOMB.  EVERYONE COULD SEE IT.  HE WAS JUST BOUND TO SELL HIS HALL VOTE ONE OF THESE YEARS.  I don't think I've heard a single established media member indicate anything but surprise at the fact that DLB was the Deadspin guy.  John Walsh and John Skipper can go fuck themselves for a lot of reasons, but I definitely wouldn't put that incident on them.

That was last week. Simmons and Dr. V was this week. What possibly will happen next week?

ESPN somehow going bankrupt, hopefully.

Bob Iger and the big Disney bosses don’t care if the noise translates to ratings and more megaprofits. But the Simmons snafu, with Grantland based in Iger’s Los Angeles backyard, could cost the company dearly in legal losses and public relations. 

Again, I would be shocked if anything comes of this besides a quiet settlement of an undisclosed amount.

“We want to keep taking risks. That’s one of the reasons why we created Grantland. Every mistake we’ve made, we’ve learned from it,” Simmons wrote.

How about going away before you make another?

If only.  Jay kind of has a point here--this isn't a tech startup entering a new field that needs to figure out what works and what doesn't.  Sites like Grantland should not make mistakes like this.

“Bill’s a fan,” Rivers said last summer, amid his epic televised argument with Simmons. “Is he qualified to do the NBA? Well, we can debate that all day. But Bill’s a fan, and I get that.”

A better question: Is Simmons qualified to do anything? Exactly who is he, where did he come from and what are his credentials other than being a fanboy? Can anyone answer that?

Bill almost certainly does not know more about the NBA than Doc Rivers, but he also almost certainly knows more about sports in general than Mariotti does.  If you gave me a horrible Sophie's choice in which I absolutely HAD to let one of them continue to write about sports, I'm taking Bill over Jay every time.  So, to answer your question, Jay, his credentials are knowing a little about sports and oscillating between being bad and terrible at expressing his thoughts.  Given that you know even less and are always terrible at expressing your thoughts, please stop throwing stones from your glass house.  Please take your "credentials" and "industry know-how" and shove them directly up your ass.

As it is, Simmons has shown a gross insensitivity toward other worldly subjects. Remember when he went to Memphis for a Grizzlies-Clippers playoff series last year and compared the Martin Luther King assassination to the crowd mood at Game 3? Said Bill: “I didn’t realize the effect (the King tragedy) had on that city. … I think from people we talk to and stuff we’ve read, the shooting kind of sets the tone for how the city thinks about stuff. We were at Game 3. Great crowd, they fall behind and the whole crowd got tense. It was like, `Oh no, something bad is going to happen.’ And it starts from that shooting and it’s just that mind-set they have.”

King was assassinated in 1968.

Now Jay is getting off the mat and back into the game.  That's a posterizing slam dunk for him.  Holy shit, I had forgotten about that Simmons bit.  That might be the dumbest thing I've ever read.

After that blunder, I e-mailed Skipper — I worked eight years at ESPN as a regular panelist on the debate show, “Around The Horn” — 


and suggested in good faith that Simmons was grossly overworked. “We do that to our people sometimes,” Skipper said.

"These 'John Carter'/NBA playoffs cross-promotional pieces aren't going to write themselves!"

Nothing changed. Simmons continued to be routinely overworked, which is Skipper’s responsibility as ESPN’s president and lead decision-maker. And the more Simmons worked, the more power he tossed around. If it wasn’t true that he ran Magic Johnson off the “NBA Countdown” show in which Simmons regularly appears, 

And let's hope that it was, because that would be great.  To Magic's credit, he has remained very quiet about the whole thing (as far as I know).

tensions between Simmons and Michael Wilbon sometimes flared during broadcasts. 

I renew the comments I made in the post linked just above.  It was great that Wilbon talked down to Simmons and treated him like dirt, but it doesn't change the fact that Wilbon is a fucking twat. 

Wilbon is one of the best sports journalists in America, 


trained at Northwestern and developed at the Washington Post, and he has broken too many stories in his career to count. 

Wilbon may be an excellent reporter, although I doubt even that much.  But let's be clear: as a journalist, the man fucking stinks on ice.  He's atrocious.  I hope he moves to Antarctica and doesn't come back.

Simmons couldn’t break a piece of china. Wilbon looked at Simmons as an alien from outer space, untrained and unkempt in the industry. Yet Wilbon, overworked himself, departed the show while Simmons pal Jalen Rose came on board, in what is now more than ever a distant also-ran to the Charles Barkley-fueled “Inside The NBA” show on TNT.

Not going to bag on Simmons too hard for that.  There's only one Chuck, and ESPN doesn't have him.  But yeah, don't bother watching NBA Countdown, it's a disaster.

Simmons has the ear of Skipper. Why? Because Simmons, with his Hollywood connections as a former comedy writer for Jimmy Kimmel, 





This is the best Mariotti piece I've ever read.

could meld show business with Bristol. What Simmons has done well at ESPN was conceive the “30 For 30” concept, sports documentaries created by some of the film industry’s best directors. And the best decision Simmons made, in regard to the project, was staying out of the way of those productions.

Just seconds after nearly making me fall out of my chair with laughter, Jay makes another legitimately good point.  Really pulling a Jekyll and Hyde act here.

In my world, Simmons doesn’t write well, doesn’t do TV well and really doesn’t do much of anything but schmooze the right people. 

Dear God, don't make me write it.  OK, I'm going to really regretfully write it.  Look: the guy has an audience.  A huge one.  That does not mean he's not a gigantic fucking self-centered dope, but the guy has an audience.  I'm pretty sure that's the one thing he does well.  

At ESPN, any guy off the street — myself included, I suppose — could do a few shows and become a star, 

False humility alert!

based simply on the network’s massive clout and reach. But at some point, there has to be a redeeming value to a personality. And don’t tell me about page views, unique visitors and Twitter followers — the biggest ongoing scam in the web media is how people buy and fabricate numbers, in some cases by the hundreds of thousands. Ignore numbers.

Or do tell me about pageviews, because they drive advertising rates, and advertising money drives the network.  So yeah, in evaluating whether Simmons is actually bringing anything to the table for ESPN, go ahead and do the opposite of what Jay just said.  And if you want to somehow believe Simmons is gaming the system to inflate his pageviews or something, you can also go ahead and do that, but just know that you're siding with Jay Mariotti.  That should get you to reconsider.  Also: assuming Jay is actually implying that here, it's almost funnier than Jay's insinuation that Bill is some kind of Hollywood insider.  As if a corporate behemoth the size of Disney/ABC wouldn't have a very firm grasp on what drives their web traffic.  And as if it would be possible for one of their own employees to commit pageview fraud right under their noses.

Bill Simmons, BS for short, 


is the product of a network so big that it can make media sensations out of hubcaps. 

Except that Simmons, for all his flaws, and he does have many of them, is something of a self-made success story (even if he was born with a silver spoon in his mouth), so that argument doesn't really resonate here.

Now that he has become a liability to that network, expect him any day back in the Garden with his Celtics jersey. Once a fanboy, always a fanboy.

This is Jay Mariotti for Sports Talk Florida, signing off.  

/single tear drips down Jay's cheek as he closes his laptop and goes to sleep in the back of his car

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Oh my God.

Someone, anyone, please punch this man in the face.  (By "this man" I don't mean Florio, I mean D. Orlando Ledbetter, president of the Pro Football Writers Association.  Although Florio could probably use a good face punching too so if that's convenient feel free to handle it.)

“The Pro Football Writers of America, the official voice of pro football writers fighting and promoting for access to NFL personnel to best serve the public, is extremely disappointed in the lack of meaningful access to Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch at the Super Bowl XLVIII media day on Tuesday,” the PFWA said in a statement issued by president D. Orlando Ledbetter.

“Several of our long-standing and high profile members were appalled by Mr. Lynch’s conduct and refusal to answer any questions. We find the statement that by the league that ‘Players are required to participate and he participated’ to be an affront to our membership. However, we are encouraged that the league will continue to closely monitor this situation.”


Your move, BBWAA.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Mariotti vs. Simmons in an ethics-off. WHO YA GOT? (Part 1)

So I did not post about Simmons's conference championship game picks, but needless to say, he took both underdogs to win outright, and instead both favorites covered.  To be fair to him, had I posted my picks, I would have only gone 1-1, as I liked the Broncos and Niners to cover, and the Niners to possibly win outright.  To be unnecessarily generous to both him and me, the Niners were about a foot away from winning outright.  Anyways, much as we all wanted to enjoy some tasty Simmons schadenfreude after the GREATRIOTS laid a huge egg in Denver, his Twitter feed was silent between Friday evening and Monday morning, and when he did get around to tweeting on Monday, he had bigger concerns to address.

I assume you know what I'm referring to, but if you don't, Google "Grantland Dr. V article."  You'll find plenty of thoughtful (and some not very thoughtful) responses to what went down.  It's a tragic story that reflects very poorly on Grantland and Simmons, but I'm not here to pile on them.  I'm here to bring you the response the incident prompted from sports journalism's foremost expert on ethics: Jay Mariotti!

Like you, I had no idea he had a job again.  Somehow, he convinced some outlet called Sports Talk Florida to pay him for his labor.  As far as I can tell, Sports Talk Florida is an internet radio station that also publishes STRONG TAKES from its personnel on its website.  Jay apparently hosts a show from noon to three every afternoon, and also gets to write.  And when he writes, you know he's not going to shy away from the hot topics of the day.  Bill Simmons: prepare to be TAKEN TO TASK.  As Chris W said when sending this link to Jack M and I, let's root for the meteor.  (Late breaking edit: I didn't realize commenter tony harding also placed this link in the comments to my last post until just now.  Thanks dude.  I assume SportsTalkFlorida is in your blogroll.)

A fanboy should not be a sports columnist, a TV analyst and a website editor. 

Can we just end the article here?  Actually, even that's taking things too far and giving Jay's thoughts too much credit.  I think it's fine for fanboys to be columnists.  I'm a nerdy blogger who lives in his parents' basement, etc., so I have to support the idea of fans having a voice in the sports world.  I don't hate Simmons because he became a popular writer on a huge platform without any journalism credentials.  I hate Simmons because he's a fucking idiot.  However, I will agree with Jay that just because you have the magic formula that causes dipshit sports fans everywhere to gobble up anything you write doesn't mean you should be given a role on TV or creative and editorial control over a (corporate-funded) website.  Jay and I are definitely on the same page there.

A fanboy should remain a fanboy, 

Oh no.  You know where this is headed.

root vacuously for his teams 

If you use your imagination, you can hear Mariotti's voice morphing into Wilbon's as this sentence goes along.

and leave the serious work to the trained journalists. 


Only SERIOUS JOURNALISTS like Bill Plaschke and Jay should be able to offer up HOT TAKES on matters related to sport.  If you don't own a journalism degree, you shouldn't be allowed to offer your opinion as to whether or not Ozzie "the Blizzard of Oz" Guillen is utilizing his bullpen properly.  

What a fucking cunt.

Several years ago, ESPN turned a fanboy named Bill Simmons into a blogging cartoon character 

It is true that they literally turned Simmons into a cartoon character at one point (2005?  2006?) for a very short-lived online series that was as poorly executed as it was conceived.  I think Jay is referring to the fact that ESPN employed him at all here, but I just wanted to remind you that "Sports Guy's World," or whatever the fuck that web cartoon was called, was a thing that ESPN spent money on.

— the Sports Guy, he was called — who was cast as a role model for legions of other fanboys unqualified for professional sports media and used by the network to generate traffic for then-fledgling

I know you feel threatened by the fact that just about anyone can start a blog and develop a reader base these days, Jay, but let's not take it too far.  At the time ESPN hired Simmons (1999?  2000?) blogs were still several years away from being a thing (I hate using that terminology, but it's the weekend and I'm feeling lazy) and your cozy little job at the Chicago Sun-Times was still perfectly intact.  Simmons was only hired as a role model in the sense that his appeal was based on being an everyday fan.  Jay seems to think that ESPN hired him in order to inspire other knuckle-dragging non-accredited journalists to become successful BLOGGERS (term used pejoratively in this case) and RUIN SPORTS MEDIA FOREVER.  Kind of sounds like sour grapes from a hard-partying no-contest-pleading-to-charges-of-woman-punching fuckass who has no one to blame for his own downfall from major newspaper columnist to internet radio station guy.

This was when the Internet was swallowing the world and newspapers were starting to die, a perfect segue to a sportswriting fad. 

Yes, a "fad," which played a huge role in the death of many gigantic newspaper institutions, as you just acknowledged, and which will be the main way people get sports content for a long time to come.

Problem was, Simmons spawned a lot of other fanboys who could become sportswriters simply by signing onto Word Press and launching blogs. 

Although there are relatively inconsequential differences between a Blogger-hosted blog and the site Jay is using now, for all intents and purposes, one of these so-called "weblogs" is the only reason he has a voice right now.

Around this time, web entrepreneurs with no conscience about accountability and ethics 

Yeah, I hate those unethical bloggers!

launched their own grubby sites, 

I'm not going to link to it, but if you're feeling generous, go to Sports Talk Florida's site, and soak up the non-grubbiness.

then hired fanboys for pennies while ordering them to accrue as many clicks as possible by whatever means possible, 

LEAVE BLEACHER REPORT OUT OF THIS.  THEIR MOBILE APP IS ACTUALLY KIND OF GOOD.  (No really, it is.  ESPN Scorecenter has become progressively shittier with every upgrade, and Bleacher Report TeamStream is non-horrible.)  I also love the insinuation that it's only bloggers who ever stoop to ethical lows to generate buzz.  No mainstream old media print journalist would ever consider such a thing!

even if it meant stalking famous athletes and media people and publishing blatant lies, blind items, dick and vagina photos, whatever attracted the eyeballs of various stoners and losers.

Deadspin's commenters are the worst people on the internet, but I'm pretty sure there are at least some non-commenting readers who are neither stoners nor losers.

All of which brings us to Simmons today. Having ruined the sports media industry in too many ways to count, 

This is attributing too much power to Bill.  He's an obnoxious, talentless pile of dinosaur shit--but his overall impact on the sports media industry is probably no worse than "kind of bad."  It might even be neutral.  Sure, he's spawned a massive crowd of mouth breathers who think that liking sports means comparing athletes to characters from TV shows, and that the Ewing Theory is demonstrably provable via the scientific method.  But he's also probably inspired a lot of smart and entertaining people to start writing about sports.  Lord knows I'm not one of them (I'm not inspired by Simmons, nor am I smart or God knows entertaining).  But many of your favorite bloggers, and maybe even some of your favorite mainstream writers, probably owe a little bit of their success to him.  Plus, Grantland as a whole is a steaming sauna of shit fumes, but it employs some great writers like Bill Barnwell and Zach Lowe.  If I had magical past changing powers, I'd cut off Simmons's career around 2003 (and even that might be too late), but I certainly wouldn't stop him from ever having begun writing.

he now finds himself in an unforgivable legal predicament that could end his hollow reign atop a media empire that should know better. 

If the fallout from this Dr. V situation is the end of Grantland, I'll grow a mullet.  Wishful thinking on Jay's part.

It was Simmons, as editor-in-chief of ESPN’s Grantland spinoff site, who approved the publication of a piece last week called “Dr. V’s Magical Putter.” The story was intended to determine the legitimacy of a unique piece of golf equipment. It ended with the transgender community crying foul over the insensitive work of the story’s author, Caleb Hannan, who discovered in the course of his reporting that the putter’s inventor, Essay Anne Vanderbilt, was a transgender person.

When Vanderbilt learned that Hannan was aware of the information and that he had told Phil Kinney, one of the putter’s investors, she e-mailed Hannan and accused him of a “hate crime.” Then she committed suicide. The date was Oct. 18, 2013.

Last week, Hannan’s story ran on Simmons’ site, outing Vanderbilt as transgender and not treating the suicide with the proper tact and care. After reading it, and then absorbing the firestorm of criticism accompanying it, all I could ask myself was: 

How can I make this about me somehow?

Why is a career fanboy 

To be fair to Bill, he's been a professional writer in some capacity or another (term "writer" used loosely for the past seven or eight years, as he's averaged about three columns per year, but still) for pretty much his whole adult life.  He's an insufferable fanboy, and a real piece of shit to work with, but he knows the sportswriting industry.  I'll give him that much.  He still shouldn't be Grantland's editor, but acting like he's nothing but a guy who likes sports is disingenuous.  He's shitty sportswriter, but he's still a sportswriter.

making critical decisions about a difficult story involving suicide and a transgender person? Why was Bill Simmons in this position to begin with? Shouldn’t he have been back in Boston, wearing a Celtics throwback jersey and screaming from the cheap seats that Doc Rivers quit on the team?

While that is some top-notch mockery, let's face it: if Jay were editing a site as big as Grantland, he'd make horrendous ethical gaffes like this fucking constantly.

Part 2 later this week.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Bill knows about as much about football betting as he does about baseball, or anything related to sports really (part 2)

Before we get started on laughing at the rest of Bill's pre-wild card round gambling manifesto, let's review his results from the first two rounds.  Has he FINALLY figured out everything there is to know about betting on playoff games?

Wild card results: 1-1-2 (SF/GB and KC/IND both pushed)
Divisional round results: 2-2 (He got SF and NE right, thought NO and DEN would cover, and in picking the latter violated his own rule #1 below; even when this guy is right, he's too dumb to succeed)

So with the house -110 edge on any spread bet, he's lost money so far.  Still three games left to recoup those losses though!  I'll be sure to post about his championship game picks at the end of this week even if it's not part of a full post.  In the meantime, let's hear more from the guy who says that the NFL went TOTALLY BATSHIT during the last seven postseasons because the same things that used to happen during the 90s and early 00s kept happening.

I don't see things changing, either. We knew the NFL wanted perpetual parity by ushering in the Salary Cap era, but the Bigger, Stronger, Faster era might be having a bigger impact than anything else. 

"The NFL has a lot of parity today because of the salary cap, but you know what's creating even more parity?  The players are bigger and more athletic than they used to be."  This is great analysis except for the fact that players have been getting steadily bigger and more athletic for like 80 years now.

These guys are clearly too huge now; 

Clearly!  Obviously!  These are words that people who know they are grasping at straws use.

YouTube videos of the 1970s games have little correlation to what we're watching now. 

That is not true.

And let's be honest — nobody really cares. The league's PED testing system remains a laughable joke, as does the fact that it won't discuss weight limits or any other out-of-the-box idea that might make the league's players a little more, um, realistic. 

As much as I hate the NFL, you know who probably considers the idea of weight limits a non-starter?  That would be the NFLPA.  As in the organization that is the counterbalance to the NFL on most issues related to evolution of the game.  Too much nuance for Bill to grasp I guess.

Instead, it's cracking down on hard hits, cheap shots and headhunting — a decent start, but nothing that will solve the fundamental problem of NFL players outgrowing a sport that was originally designed for different bodies and different speeds.

I won't disagree that the guy who invented football in 1870whatever couldn't possibly conceive of a 6'4" 290 pound defensive end who runs a 4.5 40.  I just don't think the players have "outgrown" the sport.  Safety equipment isn't what it could be, and frankly, the practice of cracking down on hard hits and cheap shots probably should have started decades earlier than it did.  Watching clips of games from the 80s and 90s, I cringe at many of the JACKED UP quality hits.  They're absolutely brutal, way beyond anything that happens in today's game.

Whether it's a coincidence or something more (and I say the latter), it sure seems like we're seeing more and more injuries to marquee players. 

That is the wishy-washiest sentence you could possibly write on this subject.  You'd have to exert significant effort to do a worse job of expressing a real idea there.  "Completely anecdotally, it seems like there are a lot of injuries to good players, which MAYBE MIGHT COULD be the result of something other than blind luck, although I don't really have any idea of what that something would be."  Nevermind the fact that there is essentially nothing different about the way stars play the game and the way average players play the game.  Nevermind that Bill is probably only writing this because he's a Greatriots fan, and yes, they have been pretty snakebitten this year.  Losing Gronkowski and Wilfork sucks.  Those guys are awesome.  At the same time: SHUT THE FUCK UP YOU ASSHOLE.

The lack of depth has been astonishing. In Week 16, the injury-ravaged Patriots started four guys they found off the street — not even off practice squads, but off the street. 

Guys get signed off the street in December every season.  The Patriots had to sign a bunch of them at once because the Patriots have been unlucky this year.  In conclusion: star players are getting hurt all the time these days, probably because of a comet passing too closely to earth or something.

Now throw this in: The slew of NFL safety-first rule changes made it easier for receivers and tight ends to run over the middle, and also allowed quarterbacks to stand in the pocket without worrying about being decapitated or being bernardkarmellpollarded. In the old days, you'd just assume that a shitty-to-mediocre QB would self-destruct in the playoffs because of the defensive pressure, the intensity or whatever. That's why three of my 15 Manifesto 4.0 rules revolved around quarterbacks: "Never, ever, EVER back a crappy QB on the road," "Check out the backup QBs" and "Before you make a decision, take one last look at the quarterbacks again." But in today's safety-first NFL, how many times did we see the likes of Mike Glennon, Christian Ponder or Jason Campbell looking exceedingly comfortable in an allegedly scary venue like Seattle or San Francisco? 

I don't know.  You're the one making the manifesto, maybe you'd like to answer the question rather than phrasing it rhetorically and assuming that everyone will agree with you?  Campbell probably looked comfortable on occasion because per Football Outsiders, the Browns had an average pass protecting offensive line (the Bucs and Vikings were slightly below average in this category).  Ponder is terrible so it doesn't really matter if he was comfortable or not.  And Glennon, who the hell knows, maybe he's actually good.  More importantly, what the hell kinds of conclusions are we supposed to draw from this paragraph?  Unlike Bill, I'll answer my own question.  There aren't any to be drawn.  He's correct that rule changes have favored more offense, but who gives a shit?  Those changes help the teams with the Peyton Mannings and the Tom Bradys much more than they help the teams with the Jason Campbells and Mike Glennons.  SCOFF SCOFF SCOFF JASON CAMPBELL is not gambling advice.  No surprise that until he CRACKED THE CODE AND FIGURED OUT THE NFL, Simmons thought it was.

Swinging it back to this year's playoffs: In the old days, I would have said, "No way Andy Dalton can win a playoff game on the road, he'll self-combust" and back that mind-set with a sizable illegal wager. In 2014? I mean … name me an AFC team/crowd combo that's breaking Andy Dalton. It doesn't exist. 

Well, the Chargers and the Bengals' own home crowd, evidently.  He threw two picks against San Diego, lost a fumble, was sacked three times and was under heavy pressure all game.  He was terrible.  Good for San Diego for making Bill look like a tard.  I kind of feel bad for Dalton, and for Bengals fans.  Kind of.  Not that much.

Only Andy Dalton can break Andy Dalton. (And don't worry — he might.) Everyone has a puncher's chance in 2014. Everyone. And that's one of many reasons why Playoff Gambling Manifesto 5.0 will never happen.

Other reasons:
1) Too many podcasts with Malcolm Gladwell to tape; not enough time to write
2) Everything we thought we learned about the NFL from 2006-2013 IS ABOUT TO CHANGE AGAIN, SO MUCH CRAZINESS ON THE HORIZON (translation: more failed picks on the horizon)
3) Guy trying to write manifesto is a fucking idiot

The good news? We learned a few lessons and suggestions over these past eight years. You don't have to live by these babies; just keep them in your hip pocket and sprinkle them into your gambling life however you want. Call it a Pseudo-Manifesto.

Peter King would be proud of Bill for backing these assertions with so little ethusiasm.

SUGGESTION NO. 1: Find this year's "NOBODY BELIEVES IN US!!!!" team and give strong consideration to riding them like Secretariat.

We're currently riding a streak of six "NOBODY BELIEVES IN US!" playoff teams: the Giants (2007), Cardinals (2008), Jets (2009), Packers (2010), Giants (2011) and Ravens (2012). 

I like the massive stretch to include a Jets team that was pretty fucking good to begin with even though it didn't win its division, and also failed to make the Super Bowl.  SIX IN A ROW FOLKS.  IF YOU THINK ABOUT IT WE SHOULD ADD THE 2006 BEARS AND MAKE IT SEVEN BECAUSE REX GROSSMAN WASN'T A HALL OF FAMER.

Four won Super Bowls, the fifth came one minute away from the title, and the sixth nearly made the Super Bowl with Mark Sanchez. 

The 2000 Ravens, 2001 Patriots, 2003 Panthers and 2005 Steelers should all fall into this category as well.  I wish I were on a podcast with Bill right now so he could make up a reason they don't.

We've covered this phenomenon a million times in this space; it's a real thing. 


When everything's relatively equal, a little extra motivation goes a long way. Athletes love proving people wrong, and the greatest thing about sports is that, in the words of Joaquin Andujar, "youneverknow." Our best "NOBODY BELIEVES IN US!" possibilities for this year's playoffs?

Green Bay Packers: Somehow made the playoffs after playing Matt Flynn, Scott Tolzien and Seneca Wallace at QB for 40 percent of the season … gave up more points (428) than they scored (417) … nearly lost a win-or-go-home game to a Bears team that was so limited, the general reaction of Chicago fans was, "I'm bummed that we lost, but I'm relieved the season is finally over" … severely banged-up on both sides of the ball … it's unclear if people remember how good Rodgers is (if they don't, the fourth-and-8 play should have reminded them) … had major trouble selling out this weekend's playoff game against the Niners, fostering a little "even Packers fans don't totally believe" sentiment … and here's the biggie: They're GETTING POINTS at Lambeau this weekend. Nobody believes in you, Green Bay!!!!!!

And then they lost to their superior opponent, as you'd expect them to do most of the time.

San Diego Chargers: Barely finished 9-7 … only made the playoffs after getting major help from Geno Smith and Geno Smith's dong … oh, and they needed five quarters and Ryan Succop's shanked game winner to beat KC's second string in Week 17 with their season on the line … have a tortured playoff history that includes the traumatic "Freezer Bowl" loss in Cincinnati during the Dan "MFIC" Fouts era … are playing in Cincinnati this weekend … oh, and they're coached by a guy who said "You know what?" approximately 377 times during this allegedly inspiring speech.

This was actually a pretty solid pick.  The Chargers were clearly better in January than their record indicated.  They did go 2-0 against the spread in their two games.  Of course, when twelve teams make the playoffs and you're picking one from each conference (bound to be a bottom four seed, and probably a bottom two seed) to be a "NOBODY BELIEVES IN US" team, you don't really deserve much credit for finding a team that could cover on the road twice in a row.

SUGGESTION NO. 3: Beware of the "Everybody Believed In Us" team.

The bastard sibling of the "Nobody Believed In Us" team.

Well, that seals it.  Broncos-Seahawks in the Super Bowl next month.

A few years ago, I compared this phenomenon to Albert Ganz, the bad guy in my favorite movie ever (48 Hrs). 

How unfuckingsurprising that a B+ buddy cop action comedy would be his favorite movie ever.  BUT WHAT ABOUT MIDNIGHT RUN???????

Nick Nolte shoots him at the end, followed by Ganz looking down at the bullet hole and hissing, "I can't believe it … I got shot." You never want to be riding the consensus favorite that's suddenly and incredulously staring down at that bullet hole — whether it's the 2001 Rams, the 2007 Pats, the 2012 Broncos or whomever. 

Unless it's the 2004 Pats, 2008 Steelers (up against the NOBODY BELIEVES IN US Cardinals) or 2009 Saints.  In that case, ride that favorite all the way to moneytown!

Overconfidence = playoff death. 

Except when it doesn't.  Holy shit, this guy is a fucking clod.  He is writing this paragraph 100% because of the 2007 Patriots.  Guaranteed that if they win that Super Bowl, the only rule in the updated manifesto is BET ON BILLY B, HE ALWAYS GETS THE JOB DONE.  What an asshole.

I don't think we have a Ganz team right now; it would have been the Seahawks, but that Week 16 home loss to Arizona may have shaken them out of it. If Seadderall blows someone out in Round 2 and gets a round of "Seattle might be a juggernaut!" momentum going? Be careful, my friends. Be careful. That also leads into our first lesson …

OK, and now you know--Seattle over Denver in the Super Bowl.  Not sure if they'll cover or not.  Maybe we'll find out as Simmons continues to wow us with his powers of mystical bullshit.

LESSON NO. 1: Beware of the "Looked A Little Too Good The Previous Round" team.

One of the few Manifesto staples that still works — remember, people love overreacting to whatever happened the previous week (and during the Twitter/Internet/Talking Head era, overreacting in general). A good recent example: the 2011 Saints dropping 45 on the Lions in Round 1, charging into San Francisco in Round 2 as four-point favorites … then losing to Alex Smith.

In a game that came down to the final possession, with SF scoring the deciding TD with nine seconds left.  I agree: EVERYONE SHOULD HAVE SEEN THAT COMING FROM A MILE AWAY!  Betting a four point road favorite is a scary proposition any time, but Jesus, Bill.  Pick a better example than that.  And be sure to conveniently ignore the 2010 Packers (beating Chicago in Chicago by a TD the week after clobbering the Falcons in Atlanta), the 2011 Giants (winning the NFC title game in San Francisco after stomping the Packers in Lambeau) or a dozen other examples from the last ten years I could have used.

LESSON NO. 2: Beware of any and all aging QBs in cold weather.

Or, as it's better known, the Favre/Manning Theory. (And hopefully not this month, the Favre/Manning/Brady theory.)

Maybe we SHOULD call it the Brady theory after last year's AFC title game performance, except maybe not because Brady beat the Ravens in the previous AFC title game in cold weather, and also except maybe not because Brett Favre was pretty good in the 2007 postseason (sure, he had that backbreaking INT that won the NFC title for the Giants, but he had 5 TDs and 2 INTs in two games that postseason), and also maybe not because this is a retarded idea in the first place before you even examine the anecdotes.

LESSON NO. 3: Beware of all dome teams in cold weather.

Thanks to Chase Stuart for this stat: Dome teams are 3-22 in the playoffs when they're outdoors and it's 35 degrees or colder.

So naturally the Saints went into Philly on a cold night (not sure what the low was, but it couldn't have been above 40) and won.  And that stat is interesting and all, but doesn't help us pick against the spread.

Take it from a lifetime New Englander who spent the last 12 years in Southern California and turned into a total cold-weather wuss — at some point, your body decides, "Look, I'm not used to being cold" and acts accordingly. 


LESSON NO. 4: Don't make any three-team, 10-point teasers with three Round 2 favorites.

As covered earlier, the last time all four Round 2 teams went "chalk" was January 2005. This isn't even a lesson, it's a rule — no three-team teasers in Round 2. Period. Don't even think about it. The cousin of this rule: "Beware of the two-team teaser or parlay on paper that looks a little too easy." Gambling is never easy. Ever. Ever. Ever.

You would have won a four way 10 point teaser on this year's divisional round favorites easily.  You would have won a three way parlay with the Seahawks, Niners and Patriots fairly easily.  THIS IS A HARD AND FAST RULE FOLKS, IT'S NEVER THIS EASY, EXCEPT WHEN IT IS.

SUGGESTION NO. 4: Be careful with any team that battled a major off-field distraction during the week leading up to the big game.

Also known as the Eugene Robinson Corollary. 

This is a great point.  This one time, a player on a team that was a huge underdog got arrested the night before the Super Bowl (not the week leading up to the game).  His underdog team then got thrashed by the favorite the next day.  MANIFESTO: UPDATED.  The better example would have been the Raiders and Barrett Robbins in 2003, which was 1) an off field distraction that actually took place over the course of several days leading up to the game, not the night before it, and 2) happened before a game in which the favorite lost.  But since you (the person reading this) and I are not dumb, we won't take a single example as ironclad proof that we should always bet a certain way in a certain situation, so why are we talking about this?

All dong-photo scandals, PED scandals, sex scandals, 

Yeah, this one really bit the 2010 Jets (Rex Ryan and wife foot fetish video) in the ass right before their game against the Patriots, didn't it?

locker room fistfights, hooker/strip club scandals and vengeful-former-employee scandals go here. To be fair, the Ravens won last year's Super Bowl even after the Ray Lewis/deer antler spray fiasco became a major story for a couple of days followed by everyone looking the other way and pretending it never happened — that's why I made it a suggestion and not a rule.

You're a cunt.

SUGGESTION NO. 5: Ignore final records and gravitate toward how teams finished in November and December.

Again, this one doesn't always work — 

BWAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA he thinks that some of them always work.

remember "red-hot" Washington losing to Seattle in Round 1 last season? 

What an asshole.

SUGGESTION NO. 6: "Before you pick a team, just make sure Marty Schottenheimer, 

Hasn't coached in years and will never coach again

Herm Edwards, 

Hasn't coached in years and will never coach again

Wade Phillips, 

Hasn't been hired as a head coach in years and will never be hired as a head coach again

Norv Turner, 

Jesus, who knows, I wouldn't put it past some team to give him another shot

Andy Reid, 

The Chiefs were the better team and should have won that game

Anyone Named Mike, Anyone Described As Andy Reid's Pupil and Anyone With the Last Name Mora" Isn't Coaching Them.

I made this tweak in 2010 and feel good about it — especially when the "Anyone Named Mike" rule miraculously covers the Always Shaky Mike McCarthy and Mike "You Know What?" McCoy (both involved this weekend!) as well as Mike Smith, Mike "The Sideline Karma Gods Put A Curse On Me" Tomlin, Mike Munchak and the recently fired Mike Shanahan. We're also covered if Mike Shula, Mike Martz, Mike Mularkey, Mike Tice or Mike Sherman ever make comebacks. I'm not saying you bet against the Mikes — just be psychotically careful with them. As for Andy Reid … we'll get to him in a second.

At least here he's just trying to be goofy, not analytical.  Oh dear God, he's not actually trying to be analytical, is he?  Oh Lord in heaven.  I hope not.  WHATEVER YOU DO DON'T BET ON MIKE MCCARTHY OR MIKE TOMLIN.  SURE, THEY HAVE TWO RINGS AND THREE SUPER BOWL APPEARANCES BETWEEN THEM IN THE LAST SIX SEASONS, BUT THAT NAME, IT'S JUST NOT RIGHT.

LESSON NO. 5: Don't forget that the most important people on a playoff team are the coach and the quarterback.

The kind of deep analysis you usually can only get by tuning into a pregame show so Howie Long or Chris Carter can shout it at you.

Here's a little game for you: Before every playoff game, rate the coaches and quarterbacks from 1 to 10, add up their scores, then make sure you're OK with the math before you keep going. A good example from last year: Joe Webb (1) + Leslie Frazier (3) against Aaron Rodgers (10) + Mike McCarthy (5). A four against a 15??? And you thought about taking the Vikings +7½???? Really? My numbers for Round 1 this weekend …

Kansas City: Alex Smith (3) + Playoff Andy Reid (3) = 6
Indianapolis: Andrew Luck (8) + Chuck Strong (7) = 15

(Hmmmmmmm. And I only have to lay a field goal with Indy at home???)

Lucky him that the published spread at the time he made his pick was Indy -1--that prevented him from going 1-2-1 in the four wild card games.  Wouldn't surprise me if he went back and edited that after the game.

New Orleans: Cold-Weather Drew Brees (5 or 6) + Sean Payton (9) = 14 or 15
Philly: Sold His Soul Nick Foles (8) + Chip Kelly (7) = 15

(An even battle! Now I'm even more confused.)

At least you admit it.

San Diego: Cold-Weather Phil Rivers (7) + Mike McCoy (3) = 10
Cincinnati: Andy Dalton (3) + Marvin Lewis (6 or 7) = 9 or 10

(Basically dead even! Remember — Rivers won in cold weather this year in K.C. and Denver.)

Weren't we just piling on Marvin Lewis?  And rightfully so?  I hate to support Bill's dumb method here, but in this case it would have told you to bet on San Diego for sure.

San Francisco: Colin Kaepernick (5 or 6) and Jim Harbaugh (10) = 15 or 16
Green Bay: Aaron Rodgers (10) and Mike McCarthy (3 or 4) = 13 or 14

(Who else is abjectly terrified of taking the "3 or 4" coach against the "10" coach?)

AND YEA VERILY IT CAME TO PASS (actually it was a push)

LESSON NO. 6: Never bet too much money on your own team, and (obviously) never bet against your own team, ever, under any circumstances.

I bet against my own teams all the time.  I love doing it.  It's not for everyone, but if you're gambling small amounts and really like hedging your emotions (boy do I ever!), it's the way to go.  I think I'll go put down $20 against the Broncos this weekend, in fact.   That sounds like an excellent idea.  Except that when the Patriots beat them, I'll have to publish a note of apology and acknowledge that Bill was 100% right, just like he always is.

Goes without saying. If your team made the playoffs, you already have enough at stake. To be fair, I violated this lesson somewhere between eight and 25 times during the Belichick-Brady era — including Super Bowl XLVI, when I bet most of my winnings from the 2010 Hilton SuperContest on a Vegas ticket for

No one gives a fuck.

SUGGESTION NO. 7: Don't try to be a hero, just try to win money.

I get it. You want to be cute. You want to say things like, "I don't care about Andy Reid's history in big games, or Alex Smith's history in general … that's precisely why nobody will see the Chiefs coming this weekend!" and load up on the Chiefs, then feel like a hero when they covered.

Ask yourself this question: If your life depended on it, you'd really bet on Alex Smith and Andy Reid in a road playoff game?

(You would?)

(You'd do that?)


"Don't try to be a hero" sounds like good advice from the guy who has now probably spent ~100 hours of his life writing several different "manifestos" that describe the SECRET WEIRD TRICKS you need to know when betting on the NFL.

LESSON NO. 7: When in doubt, gravitate toward the one pick that (a) would screw over the most gamblers and experts, and (b) would definitely be going against the single worst gambler you know.

This joke is too easy to make (and to be fair, he ends up making it himself a few lines down).

Remember — there's a reason casinos keep adding new buildings, online gambling sites keep fighting to be legal everywhere, and bookies risk incarceration just to take your dumb/predictable/bandwagon wagers. 
Yes, it's called the house edge, you fucking fucktard.  Vegas doesn't want a bunch of action on one side of a bet, in hopes that the other side will prevail and they'll have a windfall.  Vegas wants risk-free money.  It gets that when both sides of a spread have equal action and pay -110.  Holy fucking dogshit, how have you (apparently) not realized this concept after gambling for years and years and years?  It's embarrassing.  I am embarrassed for you.  I am embarrassed for myself for having to write this paragraph and point out how embarrassing this is for you.  If any of the six of you reading this aren't experienced with sports gambling, let me give you a little tip: there is nothing a sports book hates more than when one side of a bet has way more action than the other side.  Joe Posnanski wrote an awesome article about Vegas taking a horrible beating during March Madness 2012 because (if I remember correctly) there was a ton of action on the low-seeded underdogs in round one, and they all covered against their high-seeded opponents.  Or something like that. The directors of the sports books were practically inconsolable.  Posnanski makes it sound like they all got taken out into the Nevada desert and shot after that weekend.  Unfortunately the article is not loading properly from any source so I can't provide a link, but if you want to try to find it yourself, Google "Posnanski Madness Money and Mayhem" and click around for a while.  It's worth the time if you can find it.  I just spent 5 minutes looking for it and couldn't find a working link though.
But yeah, more importantly, Bill is a mouth breather.
By the way, I finished the 2013 regular season with a 108-140-8 record against the spread. At least for this season, there's a good chance that I'm the worst gambler you know.
Stunning display of self-awareness!  Sadly, it's too late for him to save this blimp crash of an article.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Bill knows about as much about football betting as he does about baseball, or anything related to sports really (part 1)

The title says it all.  Just read this horseshit.
I posted my last Playoff Gambling Manifesto in January of 2006 right before the NFL playoffs turned into a glorified crapshoot. That particular document contained 15 gambling "rules" that I created from 1991 to 2005, along with my buddy Geoff, during an extended trial-and-error period that left more than a few scars and bruises. For instance, you only learn a rule like "Never bet on a playoff team coached by Marty Schottenheimer" once you've said things like, "The next time you hear me say that I'm betting on Marty Schottenheimer in January, just swing an ax into my chest."
Now there's a point I won't argue with him.  Poor Marty.  Poor Cleveland.  I won't say poor Kansas City, because fuck Kansas City.  
And you know what? The Manifesto actually worked. 
No it didn't.  You were lucky for a while.
When New England won back-to-back Super Bowls, I finished 14-8 against the spread in those two postseasons. 
I'm sure that had nothing to do with the fact that your favorite team, for which you are a huge homer, won six straight during those two postseasons.
Everything flipped in January, 2006, right when I posted Manifesto 4.0. Over the next six postseasons, I staggered to a middling 31-34-1 record, 
Because you're not that smart and got unlucky.  Nothing flipped.  Nothing changed.  Football was played exactly the same way.  You had exactly the same amount of knowledge.  It's just that consistently picking winners is hard, and you were unable to do so for a really long time.  You're a fucktard for thinking there is any other explanation for that 31-34-1 stretch, but of course that shouldn't surprise anyone.
slowly drifting away from the Manifesto as the league stopped making sense. These last two postseasons, I went 15-7 by obeying a stripped-down set of rules (we'll get to them). 
Hey, you got lucky again!  Good for you.  I hope you donated the money to charity.
Still, I'm not sure people realize how wonky these last eight postseasons were.
Allow me to demonstrate, point by point, why that's fucking idiotic.

Since January 2006 …

• The league's two best teams by record only faced off in one Super Bowl: the '09 Saints versus '09 Colts (combined records: 31-5).
Yeah, back when Bill was putting together his brilliant original manifesto, that used to happen ALL THE DAMN TIME.  By which I mean, looking all the way back to 1990, the only other times it happened were in 1992 (Redskins and Bills) and 2002 (Raiders and Buccaneers).   
• The no. 1–ranked DVOA team only made one Super Bowl … (long gulp) … yup, the '07 Pats. Only two other top-three DVOA teams made a Super Bowl: the '10 Packers (third) beat the '10 Steelers (second). The last top-two team in DVOA to actually win the title? The '04 Pats, who finished first. In other words, keep your guard up, Seahawks fans.
There was a nice streak of top ranked DVOA teams making the Super Bowl in the late 90s, but the only other one to have done so in the 21st century besides the 2007 GREATRIOTS was the 2002 Buccaneers.

• Underdogs covered six of the last seven Super Bowls and won four outright: the '07 Giants (12-point dogs); the '09 Saints (five-point dogs); the '11 Giants (2.5-point dogs); and the '12 Ravens (4.5-point dogs). The previous four underdogs to win a Super Bowl outright: the '02 Bucs, '01 Pats, '97 Broncos and '90 Giants.
This is not useful as trend information (especially in the case of sub-5 point underdogs winning outright WOW WACKY WHAT ARE THE ODDS OF THAT?????) unless one of the planks of your manifesto is "always bet on the favorite."

• It's really important to clinch a Round 1 bye, right? Well, the '08 Steelers and '09 Saints were the only bye week teams to win Super Bowls. The Bye Weekers only finished over .500 in the playoffs once, in 2009, when they went 6-3. They never went "chalk," finishing 29-30 overall. By contrast, from 1998 through 2004, the Bye Weekers won six of seven Super Bowls, went "chalk" three times (in 1998, 2002 and 2004), and never dipped below .500 (finishing 40-22 overall).
This is actually useful information, and is also something everyone who pays even the slightest attention to the NFL has been hearing nonstop for the past several years.

• Three teams won a Super Bowl without hosting a playoff game: the '05 Steelers, '07 Giants and '10 Packers. From 1966 through 2004, that only happened twice.
Only useful information if one of the planks of your manifesto is "If a 5 seed or 6 seed makes the Super Bowl, do not bet on them to win under any circumstances.  They just won three straight on the road--what makes you think that they'll be able to win at a neutral site?"  This is perhaps more useful when applied as an analytical tool for conference championship home vs. road results (or divisional round home vs. road results, already covered above), but then you look at the results and see that home teams were only 18-14 in conference championship games from 1990-2005.

• The '08 Cardinals went 9-7 and somehow lost the title in the final minute, on the highest degree-of-difficulty game-winning pass in Super Bowl history. Three years later, the '11 Giants became the first 9-7 team to win the title, as well as the only Super Bowl champ that gave up more regular-season points than it scored. I will get over this at some point in my life. Probably not this decade or next decade. But at some point.
Yes, the difference in talent between the teams with the best records and the teams with the 9-7 or 10-6 records during any given season is perhaps less pronounced than it used to be.  This is only useful information if one of the planks of your manifesto was "Always bet on the team with the better record."

• Five of the last six Super Bowls were nail-biters that included at least one unforgettable moment: David Tyree catching a season-saving football off his helmet and then never making another professional catch in his entire life (Super Bowl XLII); James Harrison's insane touchdown and the semi-miraculous Roethlisberger/Holmes game-winning touchdown (Super Bowl XLIII); Peyton Manning's season-ending pick-six (Super Bowl XLIV); Brady just missing Welker for a potential season-clinching TD that I can still see when I fall asleep at night (Super Bowl XLVI); and the blackout and all the other unforgettable stuff that happened during that Ravens-Niners barn burner (Super Bowl XLVII).
All true.  All irrelevant in a discussion about gambling, but thanks for maintaining that "the sun shines on the world because Bill Simmons casts his eyes upon it" tone of self-importance Marchman (and others) have pointed out.

• We've had one significant Round 2 upset for eight straight Januarys: the '05 Steelers in Indy (+9.5 underdogs); the '06 Pats in San Diego (+4.5); the '07 Chargers in Indianapolis (+11); the '08 Cards in Carolina (+10); the '09 Jets in San Diego (+8.5); the '10 Jets in New England (+9); the '11 Giants in Green Bay (+8.5); and the '12 Ravens in Denver (+9). Good lord! Seven of those were MONSTER upsets, too. Kudos to the Greatest Quarterback of All Time, Peyton Manning, for somehow being on the wrong side of three of them! (Sorry, I had to.)

I don't have the point spreads on these, but I'm sure they were all at least +4.5 (or in some cases, if they weren't, the road teams blew out the home teams so badly that it was definitely a notable outcome)--the 2003 Panthers beat the 12-4 Rams in Saint Louis, the 2003 Colts beat the 13-3 Chiefs in Kansas City, the 2001 Eagles stomped the 13-3 Bears in Chicago, the 2000 Ravens stomped the 13-3 Titans in Nashville, the 1999 Titans beat the 13-3 Colts in Indy, and I could go on and on, but the point is that Bill is a fucking dolt.  Also, big ups to Tom Brady, Obviously the Greatest Quarterback of All Time Because Everyone Knows Peyton Manning Sux LOL, for being on the wrong side of the Ravens' (+8) upset of the Patriots in last year's AFC Championship game.

• We've had two stunning conference title game upsets: the '07 Giants (nine-point underdogs in Green Bay) and '12 Ravens (7.5-point dogs in New England). And we had one semi-mildly stunning upset that wasn't so stunning because we'd already learned that you should never bet against God, puppies and gambling theories hatched in Pakistan: the '08 Cards as four-point home dogs over Philly.
Wow, can't believe he even bothered to mention that Patriots loss.  I'm surprised there isn't a Grantland Ministry of Information assigned to edit out any negative references to Boston area teams, even those made by Simmons himself.  Anyways, again, no clue on the point spreads but I'm sure they were big and/or the result was a huge blowout--the 1999 Titans crushed the 14-2 Jaguars in Jacksonville, the 2001 Patriots beat the 13-3 Steelers in Pittsburgh, the 2004 Patriots crushed the 15-1 Steelers in Pittsburgh, and the 2005 Steelers crushed the 13-3 Broncos in Denver.  But no, really, believe Bill when he says that he used to have a PERFECT manifesto for betting on NFL playoff games.  It wasn't just that he had a good lucky streak, which was followed by an unlucky streak.  It was that in 2006 everything that had been totally predictable went SUPER CRAZY and all this stuff that had never happened before started happening.

• From 2000 through 2006, only three times did a matchup feature a playoff team that had won four or more games than its opponent: Eagles-Vikings in 2004, Steelers-Jets in 2004, and Bears-Seahawks in 2006. All three times, the better team won. From 2007 through 2011, those matchups happened at least twice per postseason and an unbelievable 14 times overall. Seven of those 14 games were won by the vastly inferior team, including two by .500-or-under teams playing at home and as 7-plus-point underdogs (the 2010 Seahawks and 2011 Broncos).
Another sort of useful piece of information that parallels the divisional round road team record thing: there appears to be more parity in the NFL than there used to be.  If that trend destroys your manifesto, your manifesto was dogshit to begin with.

• For anyone making proclamations this week like "I just don't trust Andy Dalton in January," please remember that, in the last eight postseasons, (a) Matt Hasselbeck and Rex Grossman started Super Bowl games; 
Matt Hasselbeck was pretty good.  He was three-time Pro Bowler with almost 35,000 career passing yards.  Rex Grossman was not very good, but the 2006 Bears were very good.  Not sure what's WACKY about this.  In 1994 Stan Humphries started a Super Bowl.  In 1995 Neil O'Donnell did too.  In 1998 Chris Chandler did the same.  Which world did Bill come from in which only Hall of Famers were allowed to start Super Bowls.
It's almost like the Jets HAD A REALLY GOOD DEFENSE IN 2009 AND 2010.
(c) Matt Schaub won a playoff game only 12 months ago and just nine months before he became a bleary-eyed carcass; 
First time in history a 30-something athlete has gone from pretty good to pretty crappy in 12 months.
You forgot (d).
(e) Jake Delhomme won consecutive road playoff games; and (f) Tim Tebow won a playoff game … in overtime … by completing an 80-yard touchdown pass.

• In the last eight postseasons, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees are 19-16 combined, with two Super Bowl titles.

• In the last eight postseasons, Mark Sanchez, Eli Manning, and Joe Flacco are 21-9 combined, with three Super Bowl titles.

• Read those last two paragraphs again.

So I ask you again … how can you give your gambling career over to a Playoff Manifesto when all hell has apparently broken loose????
I KNOW RIGHT????  Good thing you've fixed all those problems and now your system will be totally perfect again, like it was as of January 2006, when a comet passed too close to Earth and secretly jumbled everything up!  We'll take a look at it next week.  In the meantime, I'll post Bill's picks (from the end of this article) and provide my own analysis.  I'm not saying I'm going to do better than him, I'm just saying he's a moron and as someone who regularly watches the NFL, I have as much gambling acumen as he does.  It's just that unlike him, I don't pretend to have CRACKED THE CODE.  I'm not a self-important cunt like that.

Chiefs +1 @ Colts

Bill's Pick: Colts 27, Chiefs 14
My Pick: As I type this, it's 31-10 Chiefs shortly before halftime.  I'd like to laugh in Bill's face, but if I'm being honest, I also thought Indy would win this game by at least a TD.  I GUESS THAT'S WHY THEY PLAY THE GAMES ON THE FOOTBALL FIELD IN THE NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE FOLKS.
Saints +2.5 @ Eagles

Bill's Pick: Eagles 34, Saints 22
My Pick: Saints 28, Eagles 21.  Call me crazy.  I know dome teams are terrible outdoors in the playoffs.  I just feel like the Eagles aren't that good, and will be in a "we're just happy to be here" mood.  Their season is already a success.  The Saints will get it done somehow.  Or not.  Who the fuck knows.
Chargers +7 @ Bengals
Bill's Pick: Cincinnati 27, San Diego 23 
My Pick: Cincinnati 31, San Diego 17.  I don't think it'll be all that close.  Cincy's defense is too good.  If the Chargers pull off the upset it'll be because Andy Dalton turned the ball over like five times, like he did in that Thursday night game against the Dolphins a couple months ago.  I lost $10 on that game.  Fuck you, Andy Dalton.  Obviously you care about my gambling stories, and obviously I'm still bitter.
49ers -3 @ Packers

Bill's Pick: San Francisco 41, Green Bay 20
My Pick: Green Bay 24, San Francisco 20.  God I hate Packers fans.  I hope this doesn't happen.  I like the Niners a lot, I just feel like neither team is going to be able to move the ball much on the ground, while Rodgers and Cobb will hook up for some big plays and Kaepernick has a bad game.  Notice that I didn't say anything about the weather, because if you watch this game tomorrow, the announcers are going to talk about the weather during about 90% of their air time.  You're welcome.
Yeah, so I'm picking against Bill's spread pick in all three remaining games, and picking a different winner in two of them.  Did I do that on purpose to be contrarian?  Probably.  Could you be just as successful at picking against the spread as Bill (or me) by flipping a coin?  Probably. Is Bill Simmons an asshat when it comes to gambling?  Definitely.  Is Bill Simmons an asshat when it comes to any other topic?  Again, definitely. 

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Lazy post. It's the holidays, bite me. Especially if your name is Chris W

"Bill Simmons" has been the most commonly used label on this blog for at least a couple of years.  I write about him so often that, as is the case with Easterbrook, I'm sort of running out of things to say about him.  Part of what causes that, not that I'm trying to be like Klosterman and use a nonsensical contradiction to sound smart, is that I write so much that it's hard to say everything I want to say.  By which I mean I have written about Bill so many times that I can't really crystalize everything that makes him horrible into one short essay at this point.  The best I can do is direct you to the 140 essays I've done, and hope you can take away an overall understanding of why Bill sucks should you decide to waste 6 hours reading them all.  Well, much as I hate to give Deadspin credit, they did a year-end feature about everything in the world of sports that should go away forever in 2014.  Tim Marchman selected Bill's career, and man, did he ever get some work done.  Allow me to copy and paste it in full, because he says it better and more succinctly than I ever could at this point.  (Bonus: Albert Burneko, who writes the insufferably pretentious Foodspin columns, leads off the year end column in that link with an excellent little essay about why the NFL sucks balls.  Check that out as well.)

Yes, I told you this would be a lazy post.  Happy New Year everyone.

There comes a point in the career of every writer-turned-multiplatform brand at which, faced with the insatiable demands for content presented by his corporate overlords and his own vanity, he stops being a writer and turns into something else. In 2013, a year that saw him serving as an analyst on NBA broadcasts, making forays into Hollywood, and overseeing Grantland—exerting power, in all, in ways that made ESPN and the sports-industrial complex better than they would otherwise have been—it happened to Bill Simmons.

Unfortunately, he kept writing anyway, with bizarre results. Just run through his archive. Here he is going on about Calvin Johnson as if no one before him had ever noticed that Johnson is a very good football player, opening with a column-length piece of fanfiction about a Calvin Johnson Nike commercial. Here he is paying tribute to David Ortiz by telling a long story about how he, Simmons, hung out with Bill Russell this one time. [Larry B note: I posted about this.]  Here he is going on for 9,000 words about a documentary about the fucking Eagles. Here's part one of a two-part series that came in at around 15,000 words comparing the NBA offseason to the justifiably forgotten Midnight Run.  [Larry B note: this too.] Here's part one of a two-part series of nearly equal length, in which various notable moments in Tim Duncan's career are viewed mainly through the prism of what Bill Simmons thinks of what Bill Simmons thought of them as they were happening.

It just goes on like that. There's nearly nothing there but banal assertions about the most obvious possible subjects, gestures at fitting them into some comprehensive schema in which everything in the known universe is tagged as over-, under-, or properly rated according to a vaguely defined sense of what the masses think, declarations that suggest Simmons may not realize the world remains in place when he closes his eyes, and allusions to forgotten junk culture.

Of course all of this is how Simmons built his brand in the first place. The main differences now are that he's a producer of sports culture, rather than a consumer of it—hence the Nike fanfiction, written as one salesman's critique of another's strategy for market positioning—and that it's not clear he's in on the joke at this point. A man who seems to consider it truly important that people understand how everything in sports that he deigns to notice relates to his own view of how others might view the fact that he views it is operating on something like the third derivative of reality. That doesn't work for someone who's writing from the perspective of the common fan, especially when he's a wealthy, middle-aged man who's impossibly out of touch with the world around him, so that his columns increasingly read like dispatches from Xanadu. I mean, Midnight Run? The fucking Eagles? Somebody stop this man before we get a 27,000-word exegesis of Chris Paul's State Farm commercials as viewed through the interpretive lens of the Red Hot Chili Peppers.