Note: This is my take on the writing of columnist Bill Simmons, the Sports Guy on ESPN.com. They say immitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so I wrote this in his style in 2006 and sent it in hopes he might use part of it. He did not.
Like most of your fans, I’ve always wanted to write you a funny email and see it published on the Worldwide Leader Dot Com. I’ve thought of some good stuff, none of which I can remember now of course, but like Bruno Kirby’s character in “Good Morning Vietnam,” I KNOW IN MY HEART THAT I’M FUNNY.
I’m also jealous. See, I’m a writer and a sports fan, and let’s face it: you’ve got a great job. Meanwhile, I drive 65 miles each way to work as a Technical Writer. In fact, not only is the material boring, I don’t actually write anything. I’m an editor. A glorified proofreader. But that’s cool. I’ve been unemployed, so I’m okay with this gig. But I’m thinking you probably pull down some decent coin to basically do what most of us do with our buddies in emails and bars. Which in turn means you can afford NBA League Pass, NFL Ticket, AND TiVo.
Don’t get me wrong. I didn’t say your job was easy. But it’s gotta be relatively fun and extremely profitable. That said, I started wondering what I needed to do get a similar gig. I need a big break. Every now and again I’ve noticed espn.com giving some college kid a column or something. I always get all jealous about that kinda stuff. Of course, when I was in college at WVU I was too busy seeing if you could stick 4 large rolling papers together and successfully roll a smokeable monster joint to ever bother sending my clips to national sports media. (You can.)
But it’s never too late. Sure, I’ll turn 36 this summer, but I’m not a running back. It’s never too late. (By the way, I had one of those horrible “god I’m old” realizations last year when I realized that I’m actually older than Jerome Bettis.)
Did you hear about that college kid who’s just a writer looking to get his big break, so he declared for the NBA Draft as a PR stunt? Pretty funny stuff, and he landed himself a column on SI.com! Turns out this guy is my friend’s cousin! Damn, I’m SO close!
So, instead of sending you 3 emails every week in hopes that you someday publish one little paragraph of mine… I figured, in the spirit of you imitating Paul McGuire or Hubie Brown in print, I’d do my Bill Simmons impression and write some long-ass rambling column to prove to your bosses that I’ve still got Tremendous Upside Potential as a columnist. After all, while most of your readers seem pretty damn funny, they all just bite your style and make up some new Face or reference some crappy reality TV show that I couldn’t care less about… they’re really no different than internet versions of The Clones.
Let’s see…. What would be a good Simmonsian theme for my column? I know! I’ll keep a running diary while I watch an NBA playoff game.
8:18pm. okay, so I’m watching game 5 of the Cavs/Pistons series. No, ‘scuse me, I’m being a WITNESS, and I realize that Dick Stockton and Reggie Miller are referring to Sideshow Bob as VED-a-jao. Okay… I was already pissed that other announcers seemed to be calling him vuh-RAY-jhad (or jhan) when it seems the last syllable should rhyme with Yao. But I’m not Brazilian or whatever he is, so I figure they must know what’s up. But now Stockton’s breaking out VED-a-jao. I’m glad the end rhymes with Yao, but now they’ve changed where the emphasis goes.
8:22pm. Poor Reggie Miller is starting to say VET-a-jhan and bastardizing both versions. Can’t we institute a Yao/Ichiro rule on this guy and just call him Anderson?
8:26pm. Dude, I’m not trying to be mean, I actually like Cheryl Miller and think she does a decent job. But does her hair ever NOT look hideous? And I’m not just talking about the braids or the bob or a particular cut or style…. I mean any and all of them. Every time I see her I think, “god, her hair looks horrible!” then the word horrible reminds me of Bill Walton saying “HORRIBLE pass.” Let’s just move on.
8:31pm. So I’m watching, listening, and thinking about how I’m gonna ask you about this Verajao pronunciation stuff… and thinking about what you said about the double-secret Moving-Picks-Are-Okay rule… and just then, they call a moving pick! On VEDajhad! That’s when I knew it was my destiny to write this email/column to you.
Alright, screw this fake running diary thing. By the time I finish this, Game 5 will be history. I need something a bit more timeless, yet keeping within the imitation/flattery theme…. But with an original twist. Hmm… I’ve got it: I’ll keep a running diary of a typical boring day at a desk job so you can see how the rest of us live. See, we’re not able to stay up late watching Western Conference playoff games, and we cant go to Clippers games or fly to Boston and go to Red Sox games with your dad. We’re working stiffs. We sit here reading your column while trying to tune out the mindless banter of office hags and look like we’re doing actual work. (Right now I have The Costanza Face going, you know, the one where George works for the Yankees and since he doesn’t know what his job is, he perfects the art of looking confused or mad so people think he’s working.)
Actually, I’ll tweak this idea and make it more of a running diary of my typical work day AND a running diary of me reading one of your columns. (I think I’ve used the phrase “running diary” so much that it’s subliminally reminding me of “diarrhea.”)
Friday 2:16pm. Sweet! A new mailbag column was just posted. Thank god, I’ve nothing else to do this afternoon.
2:23. I know only the really funny questions get printed, but I do have questions I’d like to ask you…. I haven’t bothered to search your archives for this, but where do you really stand on the whole NBA Conspiracy Theory stuff? Do you think “They” make sure certain series go 7 games, or certain teams move on? I’m torn, on the one hand, it’s stupid to think they do. But then I saw that Lakers/Kings series a few years ago….. What say you?
2:26. I hope you’re right that LeBron goes crazy and eliminates the Pistons tonight. Oh, and I love a Springsteen reference.
2:27. Vice President of Common Sense. Great idea. I have nothing to add here, so let me ask you, where do the Wizards’ narrow losses to Cleveland in the first round rank on your Stomach Punch scale or whatever that’s called? I know, nobody cares about the Wizards, but I’m a life-long Bullets fan. Don’t laugh, they’ve won a title more recently than the Knicks! Anyway, LeBron absolutely walked on that one game winner. Reminded me of one of your reader’s emails that said that series would come down to officiating and Wizards fans would end up sick about all the calls going LeBron’s way. Actually, he got called for a few charges, but in one game he ran over Jared Jeffries like he was Bo plowing thru Boz and after whistling Bron-Bron for the charge, they had a conference and realized it was #23 and switched the call to a block on Jeffries. (And what’s up with Jeffries’ head? He’s weird looking.)
But I can’t complain. The Wizlets let LeBron go baseline for that other game winner, and Gilbert Arenas missed those freethrows. Oh well. Sadly enough, it’s a victory for a team like Washington to get all that TV exposure by playing in LeBron’s first playoff series. This is the same team that got rid of Chris Webber in his prime, a young Rasheed Wallace, Rip Hamilton, Ben Wallace… ugh, even Juwan Howard looked solid once he left town. I’m cringing at the thought of Kwame Brown turning into Jermaine O’Neal sometime soon.
2:31. I’m over-hearing these office hags talk about American Idol and something about Nick and Jessica hiring Jennifer Anniston’s lawyer or whatever. Please kill me.
2:36. Okay, that email from the guy from the “University of Riker’s Island” is just wrong.
2:39. Good point about annoying fake Boston accents. But what’s really annoying about Chris Berman (and for the most part I like him) is his obsession with saying “the frozen tundra,” “New York football Giants,” and “GEEEE-men” every single time he has the opportunity. I mean the frozen tundra in the Jon Facenda voice was funny the first 29832 times. But now it’s like he can’t not do it. Give it a rest, Boom.
2:41. I’m about to skip the next paragraph, cuz at first it looks like one of those Reality TV paragraphs, but then I realize you live near Ganz! I do a pretty good Nick Nolte impression, and after “listen convict, I don’t like you and you don’t like me,” the next best line to say is “We gotta get GANZ.”
2:44. There’s this one lady at my office who talks all the time. Never shuts up. This week she brought in a fundraiser for her kid. You know, one of those “pizza-making kit” fundraisers. Forget that. I looked at the stuff, it’s like $17 for one pizza and I gotta make it myself? If I’m gonna spend $17, I’ll get 2 good pizzas fresh and hot that someone makes for me and brings to my house thanks.
I’d pay $34 if she’d just shut the f*#$ up for a few hours a day.
2:46. Well it wouldn’t be a Bill Simmons column without silly typos like “there are actual emails from actual readers,” instead of “these.” And “we’re at the point now where are save these emails…” instead of “we are saving” or “we save.” You said Kobe was lingering beyond the arc “giving the ball up every time it swing around to him.” I have been meaning to write to you and your bosses about this stuff, but I never documented the various offenses… but now you’ve handed all these to me IN ONE COLUMN. Even one of your readers chipped in with “…understand we we MUST boo Johnny Damon.” We we? Freakin spell check can pick that up! Inexcusable. I’m sitting here at my desk job chronicling this stuff while The Worldwide Leader doesn’t have a proofreader? Really?
Dammit! I had no intention of making this segment so long, but the Damon email also included “the guys we used to love plays for…” instead of guys play or guy plays. I was gonna let that one go, but then the next email has “guy with [a] silly hair cut… ask me the score” instead of asks. (oh, and “when your bombed” instead of “when you’re bombed.”) I mean, the a in brackets proves that someone is allegedly cleaning up the reader emails, so don’t hide behind the fact that a few of these errors are in readers emails. Another reader email gets cleaned up by putting [Jr.] after Mel Kiper, as if we would have thought they were referring to his dad. Yet, no one noticed that the Bug looked happier than a third base coach ready to congratulate someone who just HOT, not hit, a walkoff homer. Weak.
3:03. Great. You just beat me to the Stockton/Verajao jokes….
The Following Wednesday: I knew it would take me a week to write and send this. More typos on ESPN.com today. If the Worldwide Leader can’t be bothered to proofread their articles, then I’m not gonna bother to list them for you.
Watched Game 1 of the Pistons/Heat series last night. Is it me or does Flip Saunders look like a deaf guy with a facial tick?
Okay, you’re Bill Simmons, you’ve got a good sense of humor and you’re number 1 in the lig in making fun of Doc Rivers. You’re excellent in transition and you know you can get your Hubie Brown imitation off anytime you want. But you’ve got to work how he says “lig” for “league” into your game plan.
Yup, these are your readers…