Tuesday Humor: “The Sports Guy” Speaks Soccer

Simmons: What are the odds that this is Messi’s breakout. Almost like Maradonna, Maradona,  in 86. Pele somewhere in the 60’s I can’t remember what Cup. (No kidding…you’re the same guy that didn’t know if Donovan won anything in MLS.)

Michael Davies: Messi is the best player in the world today.

Simmons <emphatically>: Hands down.

Davies: Hands down. You wouldn’t find many people who follow soccer, who can be objective ab0ut it and would argue with anybody about that…(TSG: I don’t know, I think Maicon’s pretty good.)

Simmons: There is a little bit of..there is a magicalness to him. I guess I should say…a magic…to him.

Davies: I’m going to use that. Do you mind if I use that through the World cup to describe Lionel Messi. (Great! Now I’m going to hear that word for a month)

Simmons: There is a magic to him that I have not seen since the mid-80’s (What?!)

Davies: He’s a player that seems to pull it out in big games. That is something that every American sports fan can relate to.

Put him on worldwide television in the Champion’s League, quarter or semi final. Put him in a huge Argentina game and he seems to figure a way to play really well. (I don’t need to write anything here do I.)


I’m not linking to the podcast. At least he got the Maradona year correct.

16 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by USASoccer on 2010/06/01 at 3:09 PM

    Bill Simmons knows more about sports than all of us combined. His columns are hilarious and very smart. He recently has decided to “get into” soccer, so yes he’s not very familiar with the sport yet. But he gets more readers a day and more attention than any other espn writer by far. It pains me to see you make fun of someone who can single handedly make the sport more popular to casual fans who are on the fence.

    He even wrote an entire column on choosing an EPL team to root for by researching every single team, their fans, each owner and then deciding to jump on a bandwagon. It’s a fantastic read if your a soccer fan- especially a casual fan.

    I enjoy this blog but come on, don’t be a snob because a legit espn writer wants to become a fan of the sport and interviews Charlie Davies (who I’m sure enjoys Bill’s writing as well). This is what keeps people away from the sports, these snob like comments. How about we help the sport grow?


    • Posted by John on 2010/06/01 at 4:14 PM

      I like Simmons (more specifically I like his older writing), but the fact is that despite his interest in soccer (whether part of an assignment or actual) he is still only a fair weather fan. He will continue to make passing comments to it (positively or negatively) because he does care about sport in general, but the sport will never be more than a off season amusement.

      Bill Simmons is the Peter King of ESPN when it comes to soccer writing. Granted he has more of an interest than King seems to have right now, but in the end he cares more (and always will) about Baseball and Basketball.

      Yes it is good to have people take an interest in the sport, but the conduit having passion about the sport isn’t someone with a passing interest in the game. It is someone who is passionate, artful, and intelligent in the craft of writing/speaking about soccer

      Bill Simmons probably annoys more of his die hard listeners by talking about soccer than actually turning people on to it.


  2. Posted by matthewsf on 2010/06/01 at 3:14 PM

    USA Soccer going to have to disagree with you here and I appreciate your comment.

    First, the interview is with Michael Davies, not Charlie Davies.

    Secondly, the conduit to new fans to the game is a person like Simmons who I wish would take interest in the game for all the new fans he could possibly bring.

    Folks make fun of my writing all the time; I’m fine with that. I can point out something that I find humorous.

    What I would hope–and hope and not demand–is less starts and stops from Simmons on the sport, but also more seriousness because of his access.

    Simmons did a phenomenal piece on the Azteca, but then he turned around (and you should listen to the interview) and was ill-prepared for a Landon Donovan interview that had Landon basically saying “C’mon guy.”

    To me, this is humor above and I thought it was funny enough to comment on and I don’t feel like I’m being a snob.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/06/01 at 3:16 PM

      As a sports journalist, if I were Simmons, I would have to ask Davies how Messi has played well in the Champ’s League and for Argentina (most have not seen similarly) because the story about Messi at the World Cup will be *can he play well for the Argentinian team — he’s not necessarily expected to right now.

      And another thing…I would be willing to bet he’s doing this because it’s an assignment.


    • I heard the whole interview with Donovan and as someone who doesn’t follow MLS, I was even saying “C’mon guy.” That would be like someone from England asking Michael Jordan if he ever won anything. I also enjoyed some of Simmons older writing but have been turned off as of late, no real explanation as to why, and I concur with Matthew here that aside from the Azteca piece and his choosing of Spurs to follow (which he never followed up on) that his delving into soccer seems more like assignments than anything.


  3. I usually enjoy simmons, his articles and podcasts.but when he does get on the topic of soccer, it just comes off fake to me; either because its an assignment, he doesnt take it seriously, or lacks knowledge to speak about it.
    He did this with the Donovan interview, with the few times he brought up the premier league (“supports” spurs, but also “likes” team x y and z ) in his podcasts and the interview for world soccer daily podcast.

    He should just stick to what he is good at, talking soccer is not one of them.


  4. Posted by Kevin U on 2010/06/01 at 4:26 PM

    Davies: He’s a player that seems to pull it out in big games. That is something that every American sports fan can relate to.

    Unfortunately if Messi does “pull it out” and they win it all we will all have to bare witness to Maradona pull it all out and he’ll streak through Argentina haha….what a joke


  5. Posted by USASoccer on 2010/06/01 at 4:48 PM

    I haven’t listend to the podcast yet so I apologize about Davies, I didn’t read the name correctly obviously. But if you’re a frequent reader of his columns, you would probably agree it certainly doesn’t seem like he’s “getting assigned” to soccer. He actually answers these exact complaints in his mailbag (and yes I’m sure some of his fans probably do get annoyed that he covers the sport). But this is why it’s cool, he’s bringing the sport to fringe fans.

    Guess it’s just me, but I find it refreshing that a well-credited sports writer takes interest in soccer. Sure, he’s a die-hard basketball fan which he admits, but he also loves sports (and pop culture for that matter) deeply and this is one of the reasons that drove him to soccer. He compliments the fans and how they create their owns chants at games and how diehard the rivalries are and how it’s like no other passion in sports.

    Just don’t see any point of making fun of him for not knowing a ton about the sport. I think it’s interesting he’s trying to get into it and I enjoy reading the perspective of a diehard sport fan finally learning about soccer.

    Guess he’s not part of the club yet though


    • Posted by John on 2010/06/01 at 4:58 PM

      If I am talking to my brother…. then I don’t care if he screws up facts, doesn’t know formations and doesn’t know that Liverpool and Everton come from the same town and doesn’t know that Landon Donovan has… you know… won some stuff.

      If I hear it from a sports reporter, I guess I would expect just a bit of research.
      Just a bit.

      Even the people that NBC trots out to do the Kentucky derby find out what year it was that the last triple crown winner won.

      Also, my aside to the whole thing is…. I don’t think that the soccer community needs johnny on the sport baseball/football/basketball reporters to somehow make the sport flourish in the US. It’s great that he is learning about the sport and becoming interested in it, but there is a better chance that he will impact information in the NBA rather than in the World Cup.


      • Posted by USASoccer on 2010/06/01 at 5:13 PM

        Sure, but he’s not a reporter. He’s a Page 2 columnist. He writes about whatever he wants, from the TV show “Lost” to The Grammys to of course, all sports. He never claims “to report” facts, just humorously writes and podcasts his opinion about anything he wants. He did a “Survivor” podcast a few weeks ago for crying out loud.

        You can have those little ESPN sideline reporters trot out to the MLS or USA sidelines and hear them read from a cue-card about last years winner, sure. I just find it interesting to read from a perspective that’s attempting to get into the sport.

        But understood, you don’t and don’t want “Johnny Fan.” Fair enough. I just think the more fans the better, I won’t fault them or push them away. Oh well.


        • As an avid fan of growing the sport, one beer at a time, I would say that our exclusive club isn’t averse to opening its arms to the John Doe Sports Fans of the world. Sure there are times we could be nicer, but put me in a conversation about the NBA Finals and I will look utterly clueless; I’ve watched enough SportsCenter in the last 25 years (haven’t really needed to watch it in the last three) to know the big names like Kobe, Kevin Garnet, Paul Pierce (I think) and I would recognize the others. However, and I think I just made my point, those who are die-hard NBA fans probably just got a chuckle out of my lack of knowledge and nudged their buddies saying “look at this gomer, he doesn’t know squat.”

          Also, TSG tried to reach out to Simmons for the October WC Qualifier in DC and that didn’t result in any feedback. So it’s not like there haven’t been attempts to invite him in.


  6. Posted by USASoccer on 2010/06/01 at 4:50 PM

    I guess I would agree I wish he covered the sport more though. And yes, I will listen to the interview.

    Still enjoy the blog, keep up the good work.


  7. Posted by BW on 2010/06/01 at 9:57 PM

    @USAsoccer – to me the humor lies in the fact that he’s talking as if he is an expert, but in trying to be authoritative on the subject undermines himself. that convo up there is about the most generic sports conversation possible. you could take out Messi and insert any famous athlete’s name and get the same result.

    with his big name and page 2 credentials comes an expectation and responsibility to bring your A game to whatever you’re dealing with. that’s why he’s getting picked on here


    • I think that’s a good summation. I like the guy a lot and really enjoy his writing but if you’re presenting yourself as an authority on the sport then at least have some knowledge of what you’re talking about. There are people I disagree with on tv and in articles but even though I disagree with them they generally have a frame of reference for their points and some reasoning. Simmons just doesn’t here.

      I’d love to see him do more soccer coverage as well, but talk to people who DO know the sport and ask questions. That could’ve been a great podcast if he’d asked questions rather than made incorrect statements: “We know Messi is one of the best players in the world and has been amazing for Barcelona, how has he played for Argentina in qualifying?”


  8. I’m a Bill Simmons fan, so I’m kind of seeing both sides of the argument here. It is pretty embarrassing that he didn’t know if Landon Donovan won anything. I am willing to bet most sports fans, regardless of the sport, know that Donovan won the player of the year award in the MLS. I think it’s great that he’s writing about soccer and doing podcasts about soccer though, and since this conversation is taken from a podcast, I think it’s okay that he didn’t know in which World Cup Pele broke out. If you listen to his BS Report podcasts, they are extremely informal interviews where Bill isn’t exactly scripted in his questions. Also, I haven’t listened to the podcast, but I am fairly certain that the “magic” that he is referring to from the 80s is either Larry Bird, his idol, or Magic Johnson (which would make more sense). With that said, I am cool with Simmons being made fun of… I say go for it.


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