I am ready to start a Paypal fund to collect enough money so Bill Simmons can move back to Boston. Not being in Boston anymore, he isn't surrounded by Boston folk. Thus, he gets his Boston fan talk fix by writing about it to us. His writing is more about his fond memories of Boston than anything else. If he would go back to Boston, I believe he would become a little more well-rounded in his columns. But let's be honest about Simmons' writing. Bill Simmons gets worse and worse as the year goes on, hitting bottom around January, until he can write about the NBA again. He's a great NBA writer, and only an average NFL writer. That's forgiveable; it's very hard to be good at writing on all leagues. But it still is hard to read him this time of year.
Don Banks may be my favorite NFL sports writer (Michael Silver also would be in the discussion). But I couldn't believe this line in his column about Boston sports fandom:
I've lived other places -- the Tampa Bay area, the Twin Cities, and the Baltimore-Washington area -- and nowhere matches the year-round intensity and passion for sports and its local pro teams that Boston exhibits.
What?! That means nothing; of course Boston is more fanatical about sports than those cities. How well do the Tampa Bay Devil Rays or other Florida baseball/football teams draw? The Twins were nearly contracted by MLB, and Minneapolis may be one of the few places in the country where intellectual and artistic events are revered just as much as sports events by the average citizen. And Baltimore-Washington folk are too busy getting their politics on to pay faithful attention to all of their sports teams. I understand the point Don is trying to make (he recently moved to Boston and thus compares it with past cities), but those cities are poor sports towns, period. Not a good comparison.
Bloggers have been quick to praise Shanoff's idea that Leitch take over the back page of SI. Look at the Ballhype votes and links. However, look deeper at the comment section of Shanoff's post here. None of Dan's readers like the idea! And neither do I. Leitch is very talented, but I don't know if his style works for the last page of a magazine. What Will does best is write provocatively to inspire comments and thoughts. I could see him doing an excellent job with the first page of SI. But the last page? You don't stretch folks there. Instead, you tickle their egos and massage their biases so they buy your magazine again. Some time later I'll talk about how a magazine should be laid out.
Rick Reilly is not going to be the same at ESPN. Cosellout made some good points in his Reilly article. Reilly isn't the ex-high-school jock; he's the ex-nerd who married the head cheerleader, built an impressive resume at SI...and now both of those aspects are gone. SI was the perfect place for Reilly with its witty and laid-back style. ESPN is the opposite of Reilly, with its ex-frat boy feel at times. While Reilly may aspire to that style, I don't see that in him. It'll be interesting to see how his style may or may not change due to the location change.