Bill Simmons

The sports analyst was suspended for three weeks after a rant against NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. (September 24, 2014)

My friend Phil and I both belong to the cult of Bill Simmons, the sportswriter, mostly because he’s one of the few sportswriters out there who shares our slavish devotion to NBA basketball as the world’s crowning athletic league achievement.

This means listening to “BS Report” podcasts religiously and getting through about 2/3 of every column (Simmons’ columns regularly run upwards of 7,000 words, which means if you want to read each and every one to completion you have to give up either laundry, sex, or watching the actual sports you’re reading about).

We always include Simmons in our tweets on the off-chance he’s interested in us slurping Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving or bemoaning the lack of injuries to befall the Miami Heat starting five. We are both angling to get him to hire me on at Grantland so eventually he’ll take us to a Clippers game.

Then the other day Phil texted to alert me that he had actually made it into Simmons’ column.

“What!” I said out loud in a quiet bookstore in Iowa City where I was visiting my friend Scott to play with his baby (not a euphemism). People looked at me, so I retreated within the shelves and told Phil to send the link ASAP. Here is the exact section of the column, “Just Go Away, Gary”:

 

In other news, here's an important e-mail from Phil in Irving: "I need your help to bring this problem to more people's attention — 'I will say this … ' is the new 'Having said that … ' Doesn't this phrase drive you crazy? Someone smarter than me could probably figure out how certain phrases seem to become trendy (ex: 'it is what it is' circa 2010), but suddenly I can't enjoy TV or a podcast without talking heads obscuring their own valid points by throwing in an unnecessary, 'I will say this … ' You don't have to tell me you're going to say something — just say it! It's like a flimsy attempt to give extra importance to what you're about to say, while devaluing what you just said. It's like saying 'listen' in the middle of whatever you're saying, because what you're ABOUT to say is more important than what you were just saying."

Provocative. But are we sure "I will say this" is more annoying than any sentence that starts out, "Honestly … "? Honestly, every time someone says something like that, it always makes me think, Why are they admitting that they're being honest right now? Does that mean they weren't being honest before? It's always been the most commonly said word on shows that encourage lying and double-crossing like Survivor, The Challenge or The Real Housewives of Wherever, but now, it's trickled into sports shows, and honestly, it's just kind of weird. Having said that, I will say this — Phil from Irving might be on to something.

 

At first I was both amused and delighted that Phil from Irving—my Phil from Irving—had made it into a Simmons column. But then I started to focus more on the content of Phil’s e-mail to Bill Simmons, which had a very Kathy Bates-from-Misery sorta feel to it.

Was this the first rant Phil had sent Bill Simmons? This whole time while we were trying to get his attention on Twitter was Phil also setting aside copious amounts of time to write long screeds about whatever Costanza-like scenarios he was presently finding irksome? I suddenly pictured Phil sitting in his underwear on his couch, ignoring his fiancé, and daily hammering out irritated e-mails on his laptop:

 

Dear Bill,

What’s the deal with Chocolate Cheerios? Why is Cheerios attempting to increase market share by introducing a sugar-coated variant of their popular cereal? The entire point of Cheerios is that they are a nutritious alternative to the Lucky Charms and Frosted Flakes that dominate the cereal shelves. Hell, even if you need a little more flavor in your morning, that’s why we have Honey Nut Cheerios. They allow you the simulacrum of a sugary breakfast cereal without the guilt. That’s the whole reason they were invented! Please help me bring attention to this issue.

Sincerely,

Phil from Irving

P.S. I’m perfectly OK with Multi-Grain Cheerios.


Needless to say I’m worried about my friend, but maybe not as much as I am for Bill Simmons's inbox.