Live Blog: The Inevitable Happens

Well, that happened. So this must.

Left-click to open; it’s the ESPN Podcenter link. Live blog is a pop-up.

I basically ended up transcribing it. I’ve extracted some excerpts here.

Read on for Simmons and Reilly on Kobe, Simmons and Reilly on golf (Reilly’s not going to the Masters), Simmons and Reilly on blogs (Reilly says, “holding down couch springs in his mother’s basement”; Simmons refers to 9/11), Simmons and Reilly on beat writers, Simmons and Reilly on ESPN, and much, much more.

The Name-Drops

Reilly name-drops Brian Bosworth. Very current. Then Obama, which Simmons is put off by. Then Tiger. Reilly later name drops Phil Knight, Jack Nicklaus, once as “Jack,” and refers to, among other things, Roseanne Barr, his two novels, Josh Hamilton, John Elway, and flossing.

The Profane

Just past 14:10: Reilly says “fuck,” is censored. I’m pretty sure it’s the first in BS Report history; he does it in relating a quote about Greg Norman from another reporter. (Someone correct me if I’m wrong.)

The Sacred

Reilly’s missing the Masters to work on an ESPN show called Homecoming. I openly question that in the live blog, but: Really, ESPN, you pay a guy known as one of the best golf writers on the planet millions of dollars and won’t let him go to the Masters? That’s both cruel and moronic.

On Length

Simmons: “You said, when you first signed with ESPN, you were only going to write 800 words. Ever want to say, screw it, and write 1,050?”

Reilly’s kids read Simmons by skimming.

Simmons once again traces his stuff to Peter Gammons’ expansive writings for the Globe back in the day.

Reilly: “I had an editor who would throw a half-full Pepsi can at my aluminum desk if I missed deadline. If I had a book due on April 1st, I would have it in on March 31st. I can’t leave the yard.” (Subliminal shot at Simmons’ infamous basketball book?)

Simmons: “I hate having 1,200 words (in magazine columns). With the Internet, we have space.”

On Blogs

Reilly: “A lot of blogs, there no way to get attention but to rip. It’s the joy of destruction sometimes.”

Simmons: “The biggest issue that I have with the bloggers is that sometimes they’ll do anything for traffic. And I do think you should have to have some sort of guidelines to it.” He refers to this post. “In print, it didn’t capture the whole joking exchange I had with these guys. And then, it seemed like the goal of the blogger was to get picked up by Deadspin and some of these other blogs so that they would subsequently (pronounced sub-SEEK-went-ly, not SUB-se-quent-ly) get the traffic. They didn’t care if they were being accurate or not, they just wanted the traffic.And I think that’s when you can get into danger. Going for traffic over actual accuracy.”

(Notes: This is also almost certainly the first time Deadspin’s been uttered on the podcast. Not that it’s Voldemort, but, still. Also, most of that exchange and the Blogs and Journalism section of this post is transcribed verbatim, so as to preserve “actual accuracy.”)

Reilly: “Or (the blogs) just make up total stuff like, uh, I’m with my wife at the press box at the LSU-Florida game, and they said I was with a stripper.”

Simmons: “And she’s not a stripper, obviously.” (Zing.)

Simmons: “Well, do you actually check out the blogs, or no?”

Reilly: “People seem to think you want to see everything written about you. And I really don’t. I get criticized, I criticize other people, I know that’s part of the game. I don’t want to read people that have never met me. Or some guy that’s an actuarial by day, and at night he’s, you know, he’s trying to do this blog and he’s pissed that he never got hired as a sportswriter, and so he’s going to take it out on me and other people that are. I don’t really need to hear his gripes, y’know?”

Simmons: “I’m of the opinion, like, whatever, we’re public figures, people can say what they want. Um. I just think it’s easier for me not to read it just ’cause…it is. It’s gonna happen, I have no control over it, over what people are gonna say, whether they say something positive or negative. It’s just the way it is.”

Reilly: “To me, it’s a lot like seventh-grade girls. ‘Cause, in the old days, when I was in seventh grade, seventh-grade girls ALL gossiped about each other. But the poor girl didn’t have to hear it. Now–’cause I have a seventh-grade girl–they put it on blogs, on websites, like, ‘I hate Amber!’ You know? Everything that kind of should be just whispered to each other is now really loud and in capital letters and it’s on the Internet, when, really, it doesn’t deserve to be there. There’s a reason diaries had locks on them. And now, all our diaries are all over the world.”

Simmons: “Yeah. It’s just the way the Internet is. My dad is retiring as a superintendent this year. The way the Internet works now, you know, with the cell phone cameras and the text and, you know, it’s a crisis every week. Something happens and it just seems like society’s gotten a little bit meaner. Which I’m surprised by, because I really though after 9-11 it was going to be some sort of wake-up call for everybody.” (Reilly chuckles softly at this.) “I’ve criticized a–Mike Dunleavy can attest–I’ve criticized my share of people. There is a meanspiritedness and, you know, I don’t know if I’ve helped contribute to that or not, but I hope not.”

Reilly: “But generally, they love you. You’re part of that new school. Imagine what they say about me, because I didn’t ‘come up with’ that world. And I don’t see the value of a guy who never goes to a game, never meets the athlete…I don’t particularly want to hear his opinion. He’s, I mean, I’ve been doing this thirty-one years, for a living–I feel like I go out there, I’m in the locker rooms, I’m in the clubhouses, I’m meeting these guys, I’m hearing what they’re saying, whatever. It seems to me a guy like that has a little more valued opinion than Joe Schmoe who’s, as I say, holding down couch springs in his mom’s basement.”

(Read that again, please.)

Reily: “Having said that, though, there’s some really funny guys who I know have no access, but they’re really funny, and good, and I read ’em. And I think that’s kind of, you’re the leader of those guys. It’s almost like you don’t want access, because you kind of want to be part of that world, where you just get to shoot from the hip and you know you never have to see the guy, the 6’8″ guy, 280-pound guy that you totally ripped the day before.”

Simmons: “Well, I’m going to defend that a little bit. I’m going to defend the bloggers’ side a little bit, because the good thing about the Internet is everybody gets to have an opinion. And, you know whether those opinions are worthwhile or not, in a lot of cases, they’re not, but in other cases, they are. And in my case, when I came up, I wanted to get a sports column, I tried to do it conventionally, and, unfortunately, the way the newspapers worked at the time, you know, they just, if you were in your twenties and you were a white guy, you weren’t getting a column. You weren’t even sniffing a column until all these people retired in front of you. So what am I going to do? That’s it, I have to give up? You know, and I think for a lot of these people, this is the way they’re going to get heard, and maybe they make some mistakes in how they’re trying to get heard, but for the most part, I think it’s a good thing, ultimately.”

From here, the topic turns from blogging to journalism. Sort of.

On Journalism

Reilly: “We have discovered some really good writers that way. In a way, the bloggers are having the last laugh, because as you see papers folding, now the jobs are people who have been trained on the Internet, who started on their own, just set up a blog. But you did say one thing I wanted to take you a little bit to task for in the recent mailbag, which was frickin’ hilarious, but you said ‘97% of the guys on press row aren’t using their access to get the reader good stuff’ and you said further that ‘Reason 457 that newspapers are dying was, they squander that fantastic access.’ To me, it’s like Roseanne Barr telling people to lose weight. You’re not even there. You don’t know what these guys–I mean, I’m there a lot, I’m not there as much as many guys–when you’re looking at the TV set, sometimes they are back and they’re writing their story, but you don’t see them two hours before the game started, working the locker room, working the coaches, working the trainers. There’s tons of stuff you get before the game. To me, (your mailbag jab) was an insane comment because you can’t criticize people who are there actually getting stuff if you’re not going to be there. It’s like having PETA judge the best hamburger in town.”

Simmons: “But that wasn’t totally my argument. First of all, I have gone to games and written about them and done that whole thing. But the difference–my whole point was, why are they sitting courtside if they’re not watching the game? And, in a lot of these cases, beat reporters and columnists were given these courtside seats, and (Simmons digresses, says he went to Celts/Clips games) they weren’t watching the game, they were working on their stories. So my whole point is, why are these guys sitting courtside if they’re not going to watch the game and glean little anecdotes from the game and tell me things that I can’t get when I’m watching at home?”

Reilly: “I agree with some of that. A lot of times, they have a 10 o’clock deadline!”

Simmons says only a couple beat writers use the seats. Reilly says you use them over the course of a season, rather than in beat reports.

Simmons: “But you’re a bad example. The majority of people don’t.” Simmons says Reilly’s “overqualified” to be a beat writer.


Reilly: “See, this is why I think you should’ve mentioned you and I in the bromance thing.” (He says bro-MANCE, not BRO-mance.)

Simmons: “I thought I did. I think they took it out.”

Reilly: “ESPN pickup lines, I can’t believe they let you get away with that!”

Simmons: “Would they have edited that out of your column?”

Reilly: “Oh my God! They wouldn’t let me think it!” (Reilly sounds all of 15 saying this.)

Simmons: “It wasn’t easy to get that in.”

Reilly gives a line: “Wanna touch the other side of my pillow?” Another: “Wanna get on the Ocho?”

Reilly: “Oh my God, Simmons, could you have brownnosed John Walsh any more than you did?”

Simmons stammers. “How dare you?”

Reilly: “I though you were going to come over there and floss for him.” (Dental reference, check.) “You already got the gig, as we say in music.”

Reilly thinks ESPNers should be able to take shots at each other; Simmons says, “It’s not like we’re the Celtics,” and it’s not like they’re all “on the same team.”

Simmons: “At some point, people like you and I and Gene Wojciechowski (by some miracle, I spelled this right in the live blog), and other columnists, we’re supposed to be detached arbiters of the sports scene, but yet ESPN is this mammoth part of the sports scene…that’s the part I don’t get.”

Reilly: “To their credit, I ripped the bejesus out of the BCS, and we’d just signed this massive deal with the BCS, and no one said anything.”

Reilly: “How they work Around the Horn, I really don’t care about it. What I like is people who do sports. And you love sports.” (Reilly makes this distinction between people and sports as a whole; it’s apt.)

Simmons brings it back to that Kobe piece, says, if I did the thing that you did, and he canceled on me, I would have a problem viewing him objectively. He refers to a Jim Rice encounter.

Reilly: You go at it as a fan, I go at it as a profession. (More digression follows.)

Simmons: “Well, I’m jealous of your contract.”

Simmons asks about Sports Illustrated, and Reilly being thrown under the bus at SI. (Can anyone find the link?) Reilly says it hurt, and rattles off a list of complaints. He says the editor “sure didn’t like it when I told him I was leaving.”

Simmons dredges up an SI complaint about a piece on “the evolution of sports journalism.” “I didn’t want to do it, and they talked me into it.” And, of course, Simmons says, “It turned out to be on the de-evolution of sports journalism.”

The End

Simmons: “And you’ll come back on? This wasn’t your only appearance?”

Reilly: “Yeah. This was fun.”

My Thoughts

I’m sketching out a larger piece on Simmons and have been for a while. But this confirms a lot of things we’ve known about these two; does, as an amicable and enjoyable conversation, make some of the “feud” hype the blogosphere gave this relationship sound silly; and confirms that these two can be plainly off of their rockers at times.

Reilly compares the Internet to seventh grade, and, as cliched and absurd as it is, it can’t possibly be the strangest thing said in the podcast: Simmons cites September 11th as a reason to be nicer to each other. And Simmons’ comments about not getting a column as a “white guy in his twenties” sound, to me, a little like sour grapes with a hint of bitterness, and maybe a whiff of an affirmative action complaint.

And, yes, I realize that I’m probably going to get some traffic from this, confirming their thoughts about “the blogs,” but I challenge either one of them to find something I fabricated in this post, or to find something I sensationalized. I’m little more than an interested transcriber at this point.

But later this week? We’ll see how I feel then.



Filed under Bill Simmons, ESPN, Live Blogs, Media Personalities

4 responses to “Live Blog: The Inevitable Happens

  1. I can’t pay attention long enough to hear a whole podcast, so thanks for doing the hard work for me!

  2. I tried to listen to it but is was so terribly boring and I normally enjoy Simmons’ podcasts.

  3. Pingback: Bill Simmons Talks to Erin Andrews, Fun Ensues « The Arena

  4. Pingback: Bill Simmons Alleges “I Don’t Read Sports Blogs”; Murky Syntax Saves Zoe Simmons’ Life « The Arena

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