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I do think it's funny that a hack like Bill Simmons is put in the same headline as Nate Silver.
But he doesn't write anything good -- he neither is excellent, nor seeks excellence. He neither uses the language well, nor has interesting ideas. He merely babbles. His writing is all entirely disposable, so I guess its apropos that it's almost all just electrons.
Maybe some get jaded, but reading Posnanski in the last few days on Lendl and Dutch Leonard and the Winter Olympics makes me think it can be avoided, even if you're a generalist writing copy everyday few days on list of different sports.
But he doesn't write anything good -- he neither is excellent, nor seeks excellence. He neither uses the language well, nor has interesting ideas. He merely babbles.
I’ve had this conversation before with friends, but I think we’re in an era of specialists. The generalist who talks about all major sports just doesn’t know enough about baseball to entertain or inform me. I know more than he/she does. I dismiss Simmons’ baseball takes for the same reason, but I’ll read/listen to him on the NBA because that’s clearly his specialty. I think this is happening in non-sports journalism too, the more interesting writers are those that specialize in finance or economics or defense issues, not the pundit who knows a little bit about everything but has to fake their way through an in-depth conversation on Bitcoin or Crimea or the debt ceiling.
elf made guy that basically paved the way forward for SB Nation, Free Darko, Deadspin etc to enter the mainstream. Whatever you think of Simmons, guy pioneered the type of sports journalism we now take for granted. I'm not saying it wouldn't have happened without him
As for the shift in writing I somewhat agree.When I was a kid I loved Tom Boswell.Then I encountered Bill James.
After that, Boswell's stuff came off as fluff to me.
In the 70's and early 80's Boswell could write a game story on deadline better than anyone, when he was the Orioles' beat reporter for the Post. But ever since he switched to being a full time columnist and only occasional reporter, he's never found a niche that he could fill nearly as well.
Simmons basically hired Silver, or at least actively recruited him to ESPN before ESPN knew it.
Andy, I don't know if I fully agree that his decline started with him switching to columnist. The two collections of his columns ("Why Time Begins on Opening Day" and "How Life Imitates the World Series") from the late 70's early 80s are excellent. It was sometime after that that he seemed to lose it.
Man, we can be an obnoxious gloating bunch.
(and likewise convinced ESPN to take him).
Both he and Silver have a passion for quality sports journalism, a passion that ESPN - home to "The Decision" and "Who's Now?" and "Swami Sez" - didn't seem to have.
I don't think Simmons is a good writer (he writes "bro prose" ... "brose," which I don't find evocative or memorable), but, as others above have noted, I give him major points for his entrepreneurial instincts with regard to 30 for 30 and Grantland. I don't love Grantland (save for Jonah's contributions, which I do love), but there's no doubt it's working.
Simmons will be lucky to have half the career Reilly has had and Nate will be lucky to have half the career that Simmons has had.
The Book of Basketball is pretty damn good.
I dislike Reilly's writing as much as anybody here probably but the man's being "run out of town" by Simmons and Silver like Pete Rose was "run out of town" by Ray Knight.
But I think it's fair to ask how hard is it to throw money at one of SI's top basketball bloggers (Lowe) or B-Pro graduate and already NY Times bestselling author Keri? And I think it's more than fair to point out, considering the tone of the article, that Simmons could never hold a candle to Reilly as a writer.
(*) Or whatever the hell the name was he gave his "black" self. "I'm an honorary black guy because I've always liked the NBA," is about as trite and brotastic as it gets.
And on the latter, absolutely agreed, although they are writing from different perspectives and for different audiences. My preferences for this skew much more toward old school: The writer is trying to deliver the relevant information in a way that conveys the spirit as well as the letter, and comes from the point of view of an impartial observer writing to people who share interest in the event or team. Simmons' style is from the point of view of a biased (but self-aware) observer writing to an audience that shares a similarly-constructed bias, albeit about different teams/events. To put it another way, old school writers cater to the object of their audience's bias - the team, player, event, or sport the audience is interested in - while Simmons caters to their bias regardless of the object.
Simmons' style is from the point of view of a biased (but self-aware)
One thing that, to my reader's mind, Simmons and Bill James have in common is that they both have an unusual knack for writing the way they talk, so that reading them feels like having a conversation with them.
The casualness that may have work in a column or mailbag didn't translate into what would ideally have been a reference book built for the long term.
That said, most of his commentary was ridiculous: alpha dog, the 70s were nothing but coke, "the secret is it's not about basketball,"
It reminded me a lot of some of the arguments on this site about a certain Detroit pitcher who was a contemporary of Thomas.
but it's just one man's opinion (well, and SBB's, which def helps my case).
but how many years has he been writing and speaking professionally about sports gambling and still gets it so, so wrong?
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