Being notable for your presence is one thing but being truly notable is when the absence of your presence is in and of itself notable. That is what has happened over the past three weeks with Bill Simmons' suspension. With Simmons suspension set to expire next week I realized two things, one, you can't be a wannabe internet sportswriter without writing something about Simmons and two, this could be my best chance at catching my big break. Like Russian oligarchs fighting for coal mines when the Soviet Union collapsed, or for a more Simmons-friendly analogy, when that black guy did that thing on The Wire, I realized that the vacuum left behind for these three weeks may just be enough for me to catapult myself to internet super-stardom. Of course, this also made me realize that I have no original thoughts or angles which meant only one thing, I must resort to imitation.
Many gamblers rely on Simmons' weekly picks column to make their decisions for who to bet on. Many follow his advice closely, and the handicapping community seems to use his picks to make sure to always do the exact opposite. In 2013 he finished over 25 games below .500 and prior to this suspension Bill was not off to a hot start in 2014. Recently, betting against Bill has become a very profitable exercise. I wanted to fill the void for degenerate gamblers out there and to do that I had to put myself in his shoes, I had to think like Simmons. So I called up Kimmel, Carolla and literally every friend I have ever made, I got ready to write a column but instead recorded nine podcasts in a row and then finally, I got ready to make my picks.
As I decided to do my research of who to pick and how to write this column, I re-read years of old Simmons columns. Over the past weeks I have also been re-watching old Simpsons episodes (thanks FXX!) and I realized that both Simmons and The Simpsons have a remarkably similar career trajectory. And that thought alone is a perfect Simmons homage and therefore I must extrapolate further.
Both came on to the scene by being a part of the counter-culture, outside the establishment movement. FOX was a small player on the scene and no one thought people wanted to watch animated comedies. Simmons wrote for his own blog, then for AOL Fanhouse, which at the time was neither large nor respected and no one thought people wanted to read writing from a fan's perspective. Both were considered very edgy and ground-breaking at the time, even controversial. Both became immensely popular and have both have sustained this popularity over a shockingly long time frame and both have spawned many imitators, and many critics.
Speaking of the critics, time for a few negative comparisons. Both Simmons and The Simpsons are now extremely tame and in-offensive compared to their competition (even in light of this recent suspension) and looking back it's almost adorable that they were once seen as shocking. Both stick to the same premises, the same jokes and the same catchphrases and although they can still be effective and sometimes funny, both can often feel stale and repetitive because it's impossible for them not to given how long they have been around.
With these petty grievances out of the way what's truly important is that both deserve a ton of credit for basically creating a genre and all who came after them have to give credit to them as trailblazers. Do I like them both as much as I once did? Probably not but I still happen to enjoy both of them, but at the same time I totally understand people who have jumped ship over the years and I know neither of them will recapture the magic of their glory years.
However, The Simpsons doesn't branch out or adapt much as Bill has. Simmons has done an excellent job with things like Grantland, the BS Report and most notably 30 for 30. His talent for seeing talent in others has created an impressive empire within ESPN and the fact remains that anyone that knocks either of these American institutions is coming at least partially or solely from a place of jealousy. As humor and sports are two cultural things I care far too much about, no matter what happens going forward, the world of sports and the world of humor are much, much better with Bill Simmons and The Simpsons around. And with that rambling, Simmons-esque aside out of the way, let's get to the picks.
Steelers at Browns (-2)
Andy Dufresne crawled through a river of shit to freedom. That river was brown. Even though God hates Cleveland, I'm taking the Browns in this crapfest of a game.
49ers(-3) at Rams
That knockout during the fight in the bathroom at Levi's Stadium reminded me of Daniel-San's knockout. Miyagi would be proud. Proud and terrified but mainly confused why anyone couldn't wait 10 more seconds to pee. Anyway, take the Niners.
Giants at Eagles (-2.5)
Dallas at Seattle (-7.5)
Washington at Arizona (-3.5)
Three team teaser! Eagles are birds. Seahawks are birds. Cardinals are birds. Larry Bird is the best of all birds. Take the birds because you should never bet against a bird. You think that's poor logic for betting hard earned money on? It's not. Just stop. I'm right. Thank me later.
Pats (-3) at Bills
This year's Pats team reminds me a lot of Beverly Hills 90210 or the OJ chase. You just never knew where it was going but it was always entertaining and you were just thankful you were along for the ride. Either way you know one day you'll be telling your grandkids about it. Pats by three touchdowns.
Kangaroo 1 vs Kangaroo 2 (Even)
Two fierce, evenly matched competitors. I have no idea who to bet on in the inevitable rematch but if gambling was legal in Australia I would take the one that uses his tail more effectively. I also won't make the mistake I made when betting on that crocodile-kitten match and I'll use a review site or a friendly Cayman Islands based corporation. I want to ensure that my future bets on games of Knifey Spooney are legitimate.
Denver (-10) vs. Jets
Because it's Peyton against the Jets. Sometimes you don't need to think too hard.
So there you have it, my picks for Week 6 made by stepping inside the mind of the master. With all the low-hanging fruit I made fun of here, I can say honestly that I am enthusiastically looking forward to Simmons' return and like many things in life, you don't know what you got 'til it's gone. Of course, If you are an ESPN executive reading this article, if Simmons does leave the mothership when his contract expires next year, I would be happy to step in as a permanent replacement. Of course one major difference is that if ESPN wants to hire me and give me my own platform, let me produce my own documentary series, give me a spot on their primetime NBA panel and give me unlimited access and resources to do anything I want to do so long as I occasionally accept small edits and company directives -- I will accept your multiple millions of dollars a year. And I will only say that Roger Goodell is a filthy fucking liar behind closed doors. Enjoy the game everyone and welcome back, Bill.