Thursday, November 01, 2007

Bill Simmons,

It bums me out, really. I think you're a great writer. I love your schtick: sports through the eyes of a true fan, with all the warping and refraction that fandom brings. Your "Basebrawl Fever" sits right there with "Sidd Finch" as my favorite piece of sportswriting. I go back to it again and again. It's to the point now where you've spawned imitators (see Pete Fiutak at College Football News), but none of them execute like you do.

Now all that said, I'm fed up. I don't think I can relate to you anymore. You see, I'm a Cleveland fan. And if you set aside my 2002 Buckeyes, nothing sports-good has happened to me since I was born 34 years ago. My teams fail. It's what they do, and — apparently — why they exist. They exist to fail, and ultimately to provide players in free agency to teams that succeed.

Which brings me round to you. The Red Sox aren't lovable losers anymore. They shed "loser" three years ago, and within about six months the "lovable" started to wash away, too. Your NFL team probably won't lose a game in the next three years. The Celtics have consolidated as much talent as can exist in a room this side of the Justice League. Frickin' Boston College (always my trump card: "Bostonians only IMAGINE they have college football") can't help but win in the ACC.

All this disqualifies you from writing anything pointed and resonant about the fan experience. Unless and until you abandon your indomitable Boston teams, nothing you say is meaningful to anyone else in America — a fact that goes double for the star-crossed fans in Northeast Ohio. When your teams cease to lose, you're not really a fan, are you? You've lost a crucial component of the fan experience.

So many Sox fans have come up to me in the past two weeks, patted me on the shoulder and said, "I've been there." Well, you know what? NO. You're not "there" now, are you? And you're not going back "there" anytime soon, are you? So try to grasp the unthinkable here: I'm not terribly interested in how you felt in 1986 or 2003. Capish?

I love you like a brother, Bill, but you've got nothing relevant to say to me anymore. Clever discourse about the "$14 Million Grand Slam" — notwithstanding the element of truth it carries — doesn't do anything for me. My teams don't have $14 million to spend on their best players, and we never get the Grand Slam. Manny Ramirez and "Little Things That Make Baseball So Great" don't live in the same zip code for me. Manny's just a guy who chases the last dollar into Massachusetts, then drops back into Cleveland periodically to hit a ball out of the park and rub it into the face of the fans he abandoned. I'm not inspired, I'm not amused, I'm not interested.

We write to communicate sentiments to other people, to feel a connection, a kinship with them. (At least I think that's why we write, anyway.) I can't connect with you over any of this Boston business anymore. That's just the sad state of things, Bill. See you in some other life.