Bill Simmons and Malcolm Gladwell

What is it, Malcolm Gladwell Week on Unlikely Words? Bill Simmons just put up a 3 part email discussion (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3), check it out if you want to say goodbye to your morning. Not sure if this is a resurrection of the Curious Guy feature Simmons used to do a couple years ago, but if you want to say goodbye to tomorrow as well, here are the other Curious Guy discussions.

NBA Commissioner David Stern and Bill Simmons

Bill Simmons and Dallas Mavericks Owner Mark Cuban

Curt Schilling and Bill Simmons

Bill Simmons and Chuck Klosterman Part 1 and Part 2

Malcolm Gladwell and Bill Simmons Part 1 and Part 2

Bill Simmons and the Screenwriters of ‘Rounders, Brian Koppelman and David Levien and Part 2

The OC Creator Josh Schwartz and Bill Simmons

Bill Simmons and Malcolm Gladwell

A Bettors Explanation of the Economic Crisis

Also in the Bill Simmons Mailbag I mentioned yesterday, a Bettors Explanation of the economic crisis. By accident.

You just reminded me of something: There should be a section on eBay that allows the auctioning of enticing future bets. For instance, a few weeks before the NBA season, I placed $300 on 15-to-1 odds that Cleveland would win the 2009 NBA title. Those odds have dropped to 2-to-1. Not that I would (after all, Cleveland is going to win the 2009 NBA title), but shouldn’t I have the option to sell that $300 ticket on eBay? What if someone bid $1,200 on it (which would be a smart move because, again, Cleveland is going to win the NBA title) and I was guaranteed a $900 return on my investment? Should I take the money? This would be a fun Web site, you have to admit. And if eBay can’t do it, then why couldn’t the casinos themselves build a Web site that allows people to sell future tickets and get a second cut on the action? It all makes too much sense.

And then he gets called on it in part 2 of the mailbag.

Q: Just got done reading Part 1 of your mailbag. While your idea of auctioning off Vegas bets sounds like a great idea, do you realize that you just suggested the same scenario that ruined the mortgage industry and the entire economy?
— Tom, Pittsburgh

SG: Time for the greatest three-word comeback of all-time when you don’t have a comeback … yeah, but still!

A Bettors Explanation of the Economic Crisis

Chuck Klosterman Blog Part 2

Continuing the series of maintaining blogs for some of the authors I enjoy (Michael Lewis and Part 1 of Chuck Klosterman) because they won’t maintain them themselves, here’s another round of Chuck Klosterman on the internet.

Chuck Klosterman’s favorable and effusive review of Benji Hughes’ A Love Extreme:

Even after nearly three decades of MTV, we still tend to see musicians with our ears, which (I can only assume) is what the musicians would want.

Last week, Klosterman was on The BS Report with Bill Simmons (who calls Klosterman ‘Close-terman’ can we figure out if that’s how it’s supposed to be pronounced?) for 2 sessions. In the first they discussed the merits of pro sports (Simmons) vs college sports (Klosterman) and the second where they discussed newspapers, popularity and tenure.

Klosterman echoed David Carr’s thoughts that newspapers should have been charging on the web since the beginning and colluding to do so now is one way to save them. He also pointed out Simmons’ hypocrisy in criticizing sports columnists who have been where they are for ages. Simmons suggested that a lot of the best younger writers were leaving newspapers to go to the tubes, while Klosterman suggested that these guys might not be the best because internet is a popularity contest, judged by how much attention you can draw to yourself as opposed to how good you are.

Most interesting to me was a point Klosterman made a couple times that popularity begets popularity and the bigger websites are only going to keep getting bigger (though, wee Unlikely Words will soldier on!).

Lastly, spoke at the Highline Ballroom last night with all-girl Mötley Crüe cover band, Girls Girls Girls. I’ll assume the evening went well and post a review if I see one.

Chuck Klosterman Blog Part 2


I’m not sure the timeline is correct, but Bill Simmons is comparing the rise of Podcasts to the fall of newspapers. Satellite radio and podcasts already seem the same to me, except you have to pay for satellite radio (hardware and subscription) and podcasts are free.

Bill Simmons: …I love doing the podcasts and feel like I’m on the ground floor of a medium that is really starting to take off. It’s like radio on demand and I think it’s going to kill satellite radio in 2 years. I really do. It’s also a huge threat to real radio in my opinion, especially when people can get internet in their cars and can just cue podcasts up within 3 clicks. It’s astonishing to me that nobody has written a long piece about podcasts yet. This is EXACTLY the same as what happened with sportswriting in the late-90s where nobody was taking the internet seriously and suddenly within 7 years there were a million sports blogs, mainstream sites were crushing newspapers and newspapers were hemorrhaging money. We are headed that way with podcasts. I just think radio is going to become much more niche-oriented over these next 10 years… people don’t see it yet. Christian Slater in “Pump Up The Volume” is going to look like a genius.

I try to listen to This American Life, but I usually need a long car ride for it. But I listen to every episode of SModcast and The BS Report. Smodcast, with Kevin Smith and Scott Mosier, is hilarious and might be the only media I find myself laughing out loud to when I’m alone. The unifying theory of Smodcast and the BS Report are famous people hanging out with their friends talking about movies and sports.


Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler

Hey look, Scott Raab in Esquire and Bill Simmons in ESPN the Magazine write the exact same article about Mickey Rourke in Darren Aronofsky’s newest, The Wrestler: “Rourke is a jerk and he’s playing himself as washed up and talent wasted”. Simmons did spice it up a little at the end by telling wrestling when they can have him back as a fan.

When it institutes a pension plan for retired wrestlers, when there’s an off-season that mirrors those of the major sports so bodies can recover, when it cracks down on all enhancers, when someone explains to me why I shouldn’t care that so many ghosts showed up for my private screening.

Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler

Bill Simmons’ List of Best Sports Journalism

Late last week, Bill Simmons put out another mailbag. One of the questions got him to riff on the best sports journalism he’s ever read. I thought it would be a neat post to find all of those articles online (since everything is online these days). I spent about an hour and a half finding most of the articles, except for a few which were more tricky. Imagine my disappointment and frustration this morning when I saw (via kottke, obviously) that The Millions had done it faster, and, well, better. They found two I couldn’t, but didn’t link to the abstracts of the New Yorker articles. I should also mention how great the SI Vault is. They’ve taken 54 years of articles and put them online. For free. Any other magazine that’s been publishing that long and does not have their archives online is living in the past.

Here’s what I found, click over to The Millions to see what books they’re in. (Note also, I starred the links that The Millions found that I couldn’t, just to show how much more bad ass they are than me).

Federer as Religious Experience” (Roger Federer) and “Tennis Player Michael Joyce’s Professional Artistry as a Paradigm for Certain Stuff about Choice, Freedom, Discipline, Joy, Grotesquerie, and Human Completeness” (Michael Joyce) – David Foster Wallace (Plus “Consider the Lobster” as mentioned by the reader in the mailbag.

Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu” (Ted Williams) – John Updike

(Abstract only) “Down the Drain” (Steve Blass) – Roger Angell (Not sure if this is the ‘Gone for Good’ mentioned in Simmons’ post, but both are about Steve Blass.) Still looking for full text.

What Do You Think of Ted Williams Now?” (Ted Williams) – Richard Ben Cramer*

Lawdy, Lawdy, He’s Great” (Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali) – Mark Kram

The Silent Season of a Hero” (Joe Dimaggio) – Gay Talese*

“Ego” (Muhammad Ali) – Norman Mailer. From March, 1971 Life Magazine. Still looking for full text.

Pure Heart” (Secretariat) – William Nack

The Kentucky Derby Is Decadent and Depraved” (The Kentucky Derby) – Hunter S. Thompson

Medora Goes to the Game” (Going to a ballgame with daughter) – George Plimpton

Agincourt and After” (Look back at 1975 baseball season) – Roger Angell. Still looking for full text.

“Distance” (Bob Gibson) – Roger Angell. Still looking for full text.

“Magic Act” (Magic Johnson) – Charlie Pierce. From GQ, still looking for full text.

Holy Ground” (Agusta National) – Wright Thompson

“Center Court” – (Wimbeldon) – John McPhee. Still searching for full text.

Raised By Women To Conquer Men” (Jimmy Connors) – Frank DeFord

“The Loser” (Floyd Patterson) – Gay Talese

A Voice Crying In The Wildernesst” (Rick Barry) – Tony Kornheiser

Jordan’s Moment” (Michael Jordan) – David Halberstam. The Millions linked to a different piece, but I think this is it.

The Mourning Anchor” (Bryant Gumble) – Rick Reilly

Ali and His Entourage” (Muhammad Ali) – Gary Smith

As Time Runs Out” (Jim Valvano) – Gary Smith

And here’s my favorite: “A Name on the Wall” (Bob Kalsu) – William Knack

Anybody else have any nominations?

Bill Simmons’ List of Best Sports Journalism

It’s All Lil’ Wayne’s Fault

I bet you didn’t know that/

Chiefs fans want you to know Sammy Morris blocked Bernard Pollard into Tom Brady’s knee, even if the replays don’t back this up even remotely. Whatever. But after watching the play another 75 times, it dawned on me that Sammy was more to blame than Pollard for the 2008 Patriots season going down the tubes. Sammy, why are you going low on Bernard Pollard like he’s a 345-pound defensive lineman? And if you want to go even further, if Kevin Faulk hadn’t decided to get high at a Lil’ Wayne concert, he wouldn’t have been suspended for Week 1, he would been playing that down, he would have pancaked Pollard, and my man Brady would still be playing now. Did you ever think Lil’ Wayne would be directly involved in the murder of a Patriots season? My head hurts.

It’s All Lil’ Wayne’s Fault