The Ringer

John Marzano Olympic Hero

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However I see the argument that he doesn't push himself to improve or go out of his comfort zone often.
This is sorta what I'm talking about. Even when I really enjoyed Simmons, he never struck me as a person who was able to adapt. When things got tough at the Herald and he didn't feel like paying his dues, he bailed. When ESPN wouldn't let him do exactly what he wanted to do, when he wanted to do it, he got into a pissing match. When he didn't feel as if Kimmel was using all of his talents, he left. When someone pushes back even a little bit on his opinions, he gets angry. I mean, most of these things have worked out for him, so what do I know. But judging from the outside, Simmons seems like the kind of person who is happy being comfortable and knowing what he knows.

Again, that's cool. It's just that he's a writer, a podcaster, a person who (for better or worse) shapes the sports conscious for a lot of sports fans. I think that he should be better than that, YMMV. That has always bugged me about Simmons.

In the 20 years since Simmons burst on the scene, his sports knowledge has dwindled instead of grown. When he first started, he was able to write about baseball, basketball, football and hockey, as well as golf, tennis, wrestling and boxing. He considers himself to be an NBA guy and pretty much focuses exclusively on that, which is fine. But he still opines on the other sports and I'm not sure his opinion is worth that much. If you're a writer who's job it is to be knowledgable of all sports, shouldn't you be up to date on more than just the NBA?

Writers like Jeff Pearlman, Drew Magary, Will Lietch, to name a few, have come up during Simmons' time. Do they have the same level of celebrity that Simmons has? Absolutely not. But I'd put forth that they're better communicators (certainly better writers) because they do different stuff. Pearlman is a magazine writer, writes books on different sports subjects. Magary writes two columns for Deadspin, but seems to spend more time at GQ writing political pieces and (prior to his brain injury) would go on location and do stuff and write about it. Leitch can be found in a number of different publications. Even Joe Posnanski, who I don't love any more, is a writer who always seems to be learning.

Simmons seems to have taken a stance on something once and doesn't really move on from that stance. Also, TBH, I read a bit about the Gladwell podcast and for Simmons not to push back even a little on Gladwell's insane theory about Joe Paterno doing nothing wrong with the Penn State issue is fucking dumb. When someone, even if it is a friend, spouts the bullshit that Gladwell opined, you need to call him on that. Otherwise, why are you there? And I know that we can go through everyone's podcast with a fine toothed comb and pick the parts that we don't like. That's not the point. The point is this is another example of Simmons "coasting" or not being engaged.
 

shaggydog2000

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This is sorta what I'm talking about. Even when I really enjoyed Simmons, he never struck me as a person who was able to adapt. When things got tough at the Herald and he didn't feel like paying his dues, he bailed. When ESPN wouldn't let him do exactly what he wanted to do, when he wanted to do it, he got into a pissing match. When he didn't feel as if Kimmel was using all of his talents, he left. When someone pushes back even a little bit on his opinions, he gets angry. I mean, most of these things have worked out for him, so what do I know. But judging from the outside, Simmons seems like the kind of person who is happy being comfortable and knowing what he knows.

Again, that's cool. It's just that he's a writer, a podcaster, a person who (for better or worse) shapes the sports conscious for a lot of sports fans. I think that he should be better than that, YMMV. That has always bugged me about Simmons.

In the 20 years since Simmons burst on the scene, his sports knowledge has dwindled instead of grown. When he first started, he was able to write about baseball, basketball, football and hockey, as well as golf, tennis, wrestling and boxing. He considers himself to be an NBA guy and pretty much focuses exclusively on that, which is fine. But he still opines on the other sports and I'm not sure his opinion is worth that much. If you're a writer who's job it is to be knowledgable of all sports, shouldn't you be up to date on more than just the NBA?

Writers like Jeff Pearlman, Drew Magary, Will Lietch, to name a few, have come up during Simmons' time. Do they have the same level of celebrity that Simmons has? Absolutely not. But I'd put forth that they're better communicators (certainly better writers) because they do different stuff. Pearlman is a magazine writer, writes books on different sports subjects. Magary writes two columns for Deadspin, but seems to spend more time at GQ writing political pieces and (prior to his brain injury) would go on location and do stuff and write about it. Leitch can be found in a number of different publications. Even Joe Posnanski, who I don't love any more, is a writer who always seems to be learning.

Simmons seems to have taken a stance on something once and doesn't really move on from that stance. Also, TBH, I read a bit about the Gladwell podcast and for Simmons not to push back even a little on Gladwell's insane theory about Joe Paterno doing nothing wrong with the Penn State issue is fucking dumb. When someone, even if it is a friend, spouts the bullshit that Gladwell opined, you need to call him on that. Otherwise, why are you there? And I know that we can go through everyone's podcast with a fine toothed comb and pick the parts that we don't like. That's not the point. The point is this is another example of Simmons "coasting" or not being engaged.
I think Simmons is intellectually lazy, but not work-ethic lazy.
 

allstonite

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Simmons seems to have taken a stance on something once and doesn't really move on from that stance. Also, TBH, I read a bit about the Gladwell podcast and for Simmons not to push back even a little on Gladwell's insane theory about Joe Paterno doing nothing wrong with the Penn State issue is fucking dumb. When someone, even if it is a friend, spouts the bullshit that Gladwell opined, you need to call him on that. Otherwise, why are you there? And I know that we can go through everyone's podcast with a fine toothed comb and pick the parts that we don't like. That's not the point. The point is this is another example of Simmons "coasting" or not being engaged.
I almost mentioned this but I was already rambling enough. That happens every now and then with celebrity interviews where they actually say something interesting or something that should be followed up on. Instead he waits for them to finish so he can get his take out but it feels like he's not even listening. The Gladwell interview was infuriating.
 

Mugsy's Jock

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I think Simmons is intellectually lazy, but not work-ethic lazy.
I agree with you about 50% on the intellectually lazy, and 100% on the not work-ethic lazy.

First to the latter

As for the stuff you don't see, the guy built and is running an exciting and expanding media empire. I'm sure the number of hours he's putting into overseeing business plans and financial reports, taking responsibility for what has to be at least <insert big number here> full-time and contract employees, and considering conversations for potential partnerships is a shit-ton of work. Of course he has people that do the day-to-day on those fronts, but being the boss takes a ton of time and brain-space.

And for the stuff you do see, I feel like he does good research in front of the podcasts he hosts -- both his own show and Rewatchables. Again, undoubtedly a staff helps him along on those fronts, but clearly he does at least some of it himself and has to ingest all the information.

He makes fun of himself for not writing, which is fine, but I don't think it's because writing is harder than podcasting and running the business. It's because it's time-consuming and given his new responsibilities there's fewer hours in the day to devote to it.

I'm certain he works harder than I do, and I don't think I'm a goof-off by any means.

As for intellectually lazy, yeah he has a voice and a worldview and falls back on it way too easily, instead of considering news and new people as their own events. He sets everything in the context of what he knows... compares TV shows and movies and ballplayers to his favorites from the past, and considers how news fits into theories he has described in the past. Enough already with the fucking Ewing theory. Doesn't seem interested in music much at all.

But his interviews with a staggeringly impressive line-up of pop culture and media figures show a good measure of curiosity to me. Again, I don't know that I'm out there challenging myself all the time either. The last book I read was Howard Stern's latest and it took me over two months to finish that. So glass houses and all, but it's true he could try to strike out somewhere new intellectually a little more often.

edit: "Rewatchables", not "Recappables".
 
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ConigliarosPotential

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And for the stuff you do see, I feel like he does good research in front of the podcasts he hosts -- both his own show and Recappables. Again, undoubtedly a staff helps him along on those fronts, but clearly he does at least some of it himself and has to ingest all the information.
Yours was a good post in its entirety, but thanks in particular for flagging this up - saying that Simmons just does three 2-hour podcasts each week kinda misses the point that for them to be any good, he absolutely has to spend quite a bit of time in preparation. Well, not so much for the ones with his friends, although even there he has to think about the NFL lines with Cousin Sal, prepare a running order of NBA points to mull over with House (and much more than that for the NBA Over/Under pod), etc. But definitely when interviewing celebrities, and also for some of the other people he speaks to, he absolutely has to prepare a lot of stuff, not just in the research but being able to translate that research into chunks of audio-worthy content. I suspect he's done enough podcasting to feel confident in his ability to take some shortcuts, but I'm also pretty sure he wouldn't ever want to sound underprepared, and that can't happen automatically.
 

johnmd20

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Only on SoSH could people self righteously claim a guy who founded and started a multi media company with almost 100 employees is lazy.

This is absolutely insane. "Oh, Simmons hires great talent and they do all the work for him." Yeah, ok, that's how companies are run.
 

kenneycb

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You brought up some interesting points, so I'm going to cherry pick here. Yes, I think it's more than fair to say Simmons is coasting. Simmons hasn't gone out of his comfort zone in decades, he does the same things over and over and over and over again. When was the last time that he took a chance? Writing is hard, so Simmons stopped doing it. And that's fine. Everyone wants a job where the work is easy and the pay is long. I don't begrudge the man for living the dream. But I mean, I can't say that Bill Simmons is working hard.
It literally is. Not acknowledging that part of his work and pay is being the CEO of a well-known, growing company is on you.
 

John Marzano Olympic Hero

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It literally is. Not acknowledging that part of his work and pay is being the CEO of a well-known, growing company is on you.
No. I absolutely did not. Go through all four of my posts on this subject in the last day or so and show me where I said anything about him being a lazy CEO. I have no idea what he does as the CEO of The Ringer* (and neither do you, or anyone else here, for that matter). I am specifically talking about content, which should be pretty fucking clear by how I compared him to Magary, Pearlman, Leitch and Posnanski.

Simmons' content as a podcaster and as a sometimes writer is poor. There is no thought behind it, it's all gut and it's predicated on bullshit. And not only that, but he's been driving that train for 20 years, with zero growth or change. If you like that, fine. I still watch the Simpsons every Sunday. I listen to Pearl Jam's newest music when it comes out. I sometimes watch Adam Sandler movies. But at the same time, I acknowledge that all of these things have seen their better days and are cashing in on past glory, and it's okay. It's pop culture comfort food.

* And honestly, as the CEO of the Ringer, serious question: what interesting or new things has Simmons done? His web site releases podcasts and he has a stable of writers that write exactly like him. Pretty much every web site worth its salt does that. Has he branched out in any different ways? Has he produced anything new? Like when he started Page 2, he had his cartoon which a lot of people didn't love, but I thought it was pretty good. 30 for 30 was a long time ago and from what I know, he's doing the same stuff for HBO.
 

Kliq

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I couldn't tell you about their podcasts because I don't listen to either of them, though from what I can glean, Magary seems a little more intellectually curious than Simmons and seems to challenge himself more
Simmons' content as a podcaster and as a sometimes writer is poor. There is no thought behind it, it's all gut and it's predicated on bullshit.
Do you listen to Bill's podcasts or not? Because earlier you said that you didn't, yet you are ready to summarize that his content has "no thought behind it, and is all gut and predicated on bullshit."
 

Dotrat

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I think the intellectually lazy part is spot on. I used to listen to his podcast regularly but found his takes on music, movies, and TV were too often superficial and based on a kind of faux-contrarianism that was cringe-inducing, such as his early views on The Wire and The Simpsons. He also has a peculiar obsession with would-be definitive pronouncements that wind up making him look awfully dumb--nonsense like trying to 'prove' that Jay-Z was the new Sinatra, which only showed that he knew little about Jay-Z and less about Sinatra. Frankly, Klosterman and Gladwell are perfect for him because they traffic in the same idiocy--YMMV obviously.


(Then again, Wesley Morris is interesting and enjoyable on almost any pop culture topic he touches on--and he's willing to put up with Simmons, so what do I know...)
 

John Marzano Olympic Hero

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Do you listen to Bill's podcasts or not? Because earlier you said that you didn't, yet you are ready to summarize that his content has "no thought behind it, and is all gut and predicated on bullshit."
I used to listen to Simmons' podcast when he had Chuck Klosterman (I like him a lot) but I haven't in some time. So no, I'm not a regular listener. But when I did listen to him, it seemed as if it was an audio version of his writing. If that has changed, then mea culpa.

But my two favorite podcasts: Never Not Funny and Doughboys are predicated on bullshit too. I don't think that it's necessarily a bad thing when you're listening to people sitting around bullshitting. What I don't like about Simmons (or others) is that he seems to view his bullshit as fact (like the Ewing Theory). That's my problem with it. You may not have that problem with it, and again, as a great philosopher once said, "The world don't move to the beat of just one drum. What might be right for you may not be right for some."
 

kenneycb

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No. I absolutely did not. Go through all four of my posts on this subject in the last day or so and show me where I said anything about him being a lazy CEO. I have no idea what he does as the CEO of The Ringer* (and neither do you, or anyone else here, for that matter). I am specifically talking about content, which should be pretty fucking clear by how I compared him to Magary, Pearlman, Leitch and Posnanski.

Simmons' content as a podcaster and as a sometimes writer is poor. There is no thought behind it, it's all gut and it's predicated on bullshit. And not only that, but he's been driving that train for 20 years, with zero growth or change. If you like that, fine. I still watch the Simpsons every Sunday. I listen to Pearl Jam's newest music when it comes out. I sometimes watch Adam Sandler movies. But at the same time, I acknowledge that all of these things have seen their better days and are cashing in on past glory, and it's okay. It's pop culture comfort food.

* And honestly, as the CEO of the Ringer, serious question: what interesting or new things has Simmons done? His web site releases podcasts and he has a stable of writers that write exactly like him. Pretty much every web site worth its salt does that. Has he branched out in any different ways? Has he produced anything new? Like when he started Page 2, he had his cartoon which a lot of people didn't love, but I thought it was pretty good. 30 for 30 was a long time ago and from what I know, he's doing the same stuff for HBO.
I did read your posts. A few times over before posting, in fact. They were not clear as being “content specific” as seen by my and many others comments on the subject, specifically the CEO stuff.
 

PedroKsBambino

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This is sorta what I'm talking about. Even when I really enjoyed Simmons, he never struck me as a person who was able to adapt. When things got tough at the Herald and he didn't feel like paying his dues, he bailed. When ESPN wouldn't let him do exactly what he wanted to do, when he wanted to do it, he got into a pissing match. When he didn't feel as if Kimmel was using all of his talents, he left. When someone pushes back even a little bit on his opinions, he gets angry. I mean, most of these things have worked out for him, so what do I know. But judging from the outside, Simmons seems like the kind of person who is happy being comfortable and knowing what he knows.

Again, that's cool. It's just that he's a writer, a podcaster, a person who (for better or worse) shapes the sports conscious for a lot of sports fans. I think that he should be better than that, YMMV. That has always bugged me about Simmons.

In the 20 years since Simmons burst on the scene, his sports knowledge has dwindled instead of grown. When he first started, he was able to write about baseball, basketball, football and hockey, as well as golf, tennis, wrestling and boxing. He considers himself to be an NBA guy and pretty much focuses exclusively on that, which is fine. But he still opines on the other sports and I'm not sure his opinion is worth that much. If you're a writer who's job it is to be knowledgable of all sports, shouldn't you be up to date on more than just the NBA?

Writers like Jeff Pearlman, Drew Magary, Will Lietch, to name a few, have come up during Simmons' time. Do they have the same level of celebrity that Simmons has? Absolutely not. But I'd put forth that they're better communicators (certainly better writers) because they do different stuff. Pearlman is a magazine writer, writes books on different sports subjects. Magary writes two columns for Deadspin, but seems to spend more time at GQ writing political pieces and (prior to his brain injury) would go on location and do stuff and write about it. Leitch can be found in a number of different publications. Even Joe Posnanski, who I don't love any more, is a writer who always seems to be learning.

Simmons seems to have taken a stance on something once and doesn't really move on from that stance. Also, TBH, I read a bit about the Gladwell podcast and for Simmons not to push back even a little on Gladwell's insane theory about Joe Paterno doing nothing wrong with the Penn State issue is fucking dumb. When someone, even if it is a friend, spouts the bullshit that Gladwell opined, you need to call him on that. Otherwise, why are you there? And I know that we can go through everyone's podcast with a fine toothed comb and pick the parts that we don't like. That's not the point. The point is this is another example of Simmons "coasting" or not being engaged.
I know you're many years into being anti-Simmons, but how do you square his approach to analytics today with the theory that he hasn't evolved?

You mention Drew Magary. I get that you think writing on politics means he has evolved, and I think of evolving as a writer differently. When I read Magary recent Deadspin stuff it is the same angry man on a rant crap he was writing a decade ago...literally, exact same voice and references. Do you not feel that way about his Deadspin work? If it is just about writing for GQ, and that constitutes evolution, how can you say that Simmons moving from writing a Boston sports blog with occasional pop culture references to running a major media outlet which is both sports and pop culture (and being an active part of both sides of that house) and hosting a TV show is not also evolution? How is creating 30 for 30 not an evolution? What's the standard you are applying any of this?

Mind you, if you just are saying "I don't like Simmons" that's fine, to each their own.
 

John Marzano Olympic Hero

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Wow. Lots of questions.

I know you're many years into being anti-Simmons, but how do you square his approach to analytics today with the theory that he hasn't evolved?
Explain more. I haven't really seen a lot of examples where Simmons has used analytics.

You mention Drew Magary. I get that you think writing on politics means he has evolved, and I think of evolving as a writer differently. When I read Magary recent Deadspin stuff it is the same angry man on a rant crap he was writing a decade ago...literally, exact same voice and references. Do you not feel that way about his Deadspin work?
I think that his voice has changed. A few months ago, I bought his first book, "Men With Balls" and it's virtually unreadable. I don't think that Magary is a perfect writer, far from it, he tends to use a lot of crutches in his work (ALL CAPS, every one is a racist, Boston sucks) but I think that he's become a better writer. For example, yesterday the bulk of his Jamberoo was about a bachelor party to New Orleans. And this could have devolved into his story about his wacky friends and the wacky stuff they did in NO. And there was a bit of that, but I think that the opening five or six paragraphs were terrific. It set a scene, it set a tone, it was much better than it had any right to be.

IDK, progress is in the eye of the beholder. I think that Magary has made a lot of progress and his writing has matured since he first started -- in ways that Simmons' writing never did.

If it is just about writing for GQ, and that constitutes evolution, how can you say that Simmons moving from writing a Boston sports blog with occasional pop culture references to running a major media outlet which is both sports and pop culture (and being an active part of both sides of that house) and hosting a TV show is not also evolution?
Both Magary and Simmons started out at sports writers. Like I said, I think that Magary matured a bit more in his subject choices (as has Leitch, Jeff Pearlman and even Joe Posnanski) but Simmons still writes (when he does write) pretty much the same as he did in 2004. I like vanilla ice cream, but after 15 years of eating vanilla ice cream, I'd get sick of it.

How is creating 30 for 30 not an evolution? What's the standard you are applying any of this?
30 for 30 premiered its first episode almost 10 years ago (October 6, 2009). If you're okay with something new every ten years, I really don't know what else to say. And let's be real here, 30 for 30 are sports biographies, it's not that genre changing. And from what I recall, Simmons said that he originally wanted to focus on stories that SportsCentury missed, so you can extrapolate that to calling it a spinoff. I'm not saying that it is, but Bill Simmons didn't create the sports bio pic.
 

Pablo's TB Lover

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I think the tricky part for most is Simmons has been podcasting for 12-ish (?) years now, hours upon hours of content. And he is bound to contradict himself at many points in time. I think both sides are right: BS at least has a surface knowledge of analytics and promotes them during his podcast time to time, particularly basketball, from his friendships with Daryl Morey and Haralabos Voulgaris. He was one of the first mainstream talking heads to acknowledge the analytics revolution in basketball and elsewhere from his relationship with Daryl and therefore invitation to the Sloan Analytics Conference in the late 2000s.

On the other hand, BS also has a nostalgia for the pre-analytics "fun" of sports. Especially as he has handed off the hardcore football and basketball podcast content to his employees at the Ringer, now the BS podcast is primarily tangential to real meaty sports content. The closest it gets to analytics is the gambling content with Sal and House, and many times even the betting decisions are made on hunches rather than pure numbers.

But overall I think BS is an effective sports podcaster because he does play both sides, and can have discussions with sports fans with kinda dumb takes as easily as talking for an hour with Zach Lowe.
 

kenneycb

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30 for 30 premiered its first episode almost 10 years ago (October 6, 2009). If you're okay with something new every ten years, I really don't know what else to say. And let's be real here, 30 for 30 are sports biographies, it's not that genre changing. And from what I recall, Simmons said that he originally wanted to focus on stories that SportsCentury missed, so you can extrapolate that to calling it a spinoff. I'm not saying that it is, but Bill Simmons didn't create the sports bio pic.
Nobody else is either. But there aren't a lot of people that go from being a writer to executive producers on documentaries, let alone wildly successful documentaries.
 

John Marzano Olympic Hero

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Okay guys, it's been fun.

See you back in either this thread or the Simmons thread when we do the same dance with the same people in six months. Sounds like a plan?
 

coremiller

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On the other hand, BS also has a nostalgia for the pre-analytics "fun" of sports. Especially as he has handed off the hardcore football and basketball podcast content to his employees at the Ringer, now the BS podcast is primarily tangential to real meaty sports content. The closest it gets to analytics is the gambling content with Sal and House, and many times even the betting decisions are made on hunches rather than pure numbers.
What, you mean that House's "4-1 against the spread in a late afternoon game following a loss the week before a full moon" gambling stats aren't meaningful analytics?
 

PedroKsBambino

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As to analytics, Simmons has been at Sloan since 2012. He's talked about it quite regularly, and not just the conference itself but specific statistics, notions about sample size, etc. and regularly talks about NBA analytics. He of course is not "good" at it in the way some around here are, but it's a significant change from what he did in 2004.

I think we'd all agree that randomly pulling up a thread about a player who last played for the Sox in 2012 and commenting "boy, he really sucks" would be bad form. Let's have some standards on this thread too regardless of whether someone likes Simmons or not---and there's plenty to mock either way.
 

mcpickl

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I almost mentioned this but I was already rambling enough. That happens every now and then with celebrity interviews where they actually say something interesting or something that should be followed up on. Instead he waits for them to finish so he can get his take out but it feels like he's not even listening. The Gladwell interview was infuriating.
No doubt about this. I listen all the time, because he gets great guests, but he's a lousy interviewer/listener.

At least one a podcast, he'll ask a guest a question and they'll answer and start to move on to something else and Simmons will interject, but wait you forgot one thing!

That one thing is the only thing he was listening for, to see if the guest happened to state the point he wanted to make.

Rough week for Bill last week, from the Gladwell interview, to going on the Russillo pod to hear Ryen make fun of media guys who always claim they're getting ripped off while Bill had to nervously laugh at it as though that doesn't apply to him, and capping off the week yelling at Mallory Rubin about Mike Trout not being eligible for MVP because his teammates stink.

A real tour de force week.
 

HowBoutDemSox

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His pod with Flea this week was actually some of the better interviewing that I've heard from Simmons, he gave the guest some good question and let him go on and answer at length, at least for the most part.
 

riboflav

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I agree that BS's routine is tired and I don't listen to his podcasts way more than I listen. But, this week, I happened to catch his comparing QBs to famous killers (see it's like a QB has to be a "killer"to be actually good) and it was pretty funny. For local fans, you'll be happy to note that TB12 compares favorably to Dexter, one of TV's best characters! Big Ben apparently uses what is only roughly at hand like a blunt force object to get the job done - candlestick... in the ballroom??