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Thursday, October 06, 2005

You know you've arrived when you get profiled in Slate. Thus the inescapable conclusion is that Bill Simmons has done arrived. Like many Slate articles, this particular column explains something new that you always thought you thought:

Simmons' columns are highly partisan and, in the best sense of the word, unprofessional. They scrape up against the ethic of newspaper sports columnists, who love nothing more than talking about their professionalism. ... Despite the unruly passions all around him, the columnist maintains heroic objectivity. If he roots for anything, he says, it is for hard-luck cases, big comebacks—in other words, "a good story."

Sports fans tend to view this neutrality as highly bogus and slightly implausible. As Simmons writes in an e-mail, "That reality created a void where fans couldn't really identify with many of the visible columnists writing about sports—we had nothing in common with them." ... Simmons' writing is distinguished not by its Olympian distance from sports but by its almost tender intimacy.
Anyone doubting the voracity of this particular piece need only stop by a couple threads on for confirmation that borders on self-parody. Check "Fanboys in the press box, or who's a real Sports Journalist?" for a heaping helping of objectivity crowing:
As for covering my alma mater, I cover State U. basketball after graduating from there a lot of years ago. It has never been a problem - I wasn't a fanboy when I covered them for the school paper back then, so I'm not now. Have I enjoyed a couple of their big successes in recent years? Sure, but you would never know that from watching me react or reading my copy.

Mainly, I've lost my ability to cheer, unless it is a sport I don't cover. Soccer, yes. Anything else? I'm just an observer, even when I'm watching on TV.
and then you've got your spiteful desire to bite the hand that feeds:
Those people to whom you explain that you don't get to root for anybody, that your job isn't to support the home team ... what's their response? Do they just stare at you blankly, not getting it? Are they that far away from us? Or do they learn?
I find it strange that these guys are surprised when they learn that the rest of society thinks it's strange that they work 80 hours a week for peanuts to cover games that they don't care about, and that the real reason they're in it is to "get the story"--generally about some parapalegic Green Beret punt returner who huggles kittens (NTTAWWT)--when the real story has just unfolded on the field for all to see. The idea that the story of sports comes from canned, generic post- or pre-game quotes or treacly human interest profiles that only the mainstream journalism torchbearers can offer to the public is delusional. Simmons success defies that delusion and drives the ink-stained freakin' nuts.

The reason Simmons is so popular is that he writes the real story about what happened on the field, the one that has nothing to do with the phony quotes that Rasheed Wallace encapsulated perfectly when he answered every question with "Both teams played hard," the one that has everything to do with--here's Rasheed again--"The GAME! THE GAME!"And hell yes he annoys the crap out of me sometimes, but you could take all the World Series columns produced by your ivory tower objective types and have Anubis weigh them for genuine, compelling emotion against one feathery Simmons piece and the latter would win.

My life is filled with cynicism. It's a part of whom I am. It's also tiring, hollow, and ultimately a great way to fritter away a lifetime being angry at useless things. I've had my fill of it; I don't need it from sports. So you can take your jaded neutrality and stuff it. I'm with Bill.

(Wow. That was not supposed to be that, er, long and, well... that. Carry on.)

Duuude. Iowa got OMG punk'd. The following is a picture of the Kinnick turf:

HT to Evil Buckeye Tom, who also responds to my Hart-affects-Henne's-throwing dismissiveness with some fireballing of his own.

Yes, in fact, it is too goddamn long. Check the Michigan Blogs section of the sidebar for some new additions and see if any pique your interest. Special commendation to Ron Bellamy's Underachieving All Stars for getting one despite having an irritatingly long name that spills over onto a second line and disrupts the delicate feng shui I've established. But, yeah...
It's hard to watch either of Mike Hart's 40+ yard runs without picturing an 8 year old running from the cops after stealing something
... what am I supposed to do? Thumbs up, keep it keepin' on and such.

Safeties... good? Toledo Blade story on Willis Barringer.