Charlie Pierce is smarter than Bill Simmons. He wants you to know that. Not content with trashing Simmons’ book on Deadspin, Pierce now seems to be stalking him, combing through his ESPN chats for minor inaccuracies to filet him with on his blog.
Eddie from Fort Worth asks the Sports Guy, “Is Tiger going to be the same golfer.” Bill responds that he “believes” the Tiger Woods story will be the “most fascinating running sports story of (his) lifetime.” He says the only thing “coming close” is Muhammed Ali returning to exile.
Simmons is not saying Tiger Woods’ sexcapades are objectively more important. He thinks the story will end up more interesting. One might argue that, but it’s an opinion and “fascination” is subjective.
The Sports Guy then makes an overstatement, or if you are Charlie Pierce, “history” is having “its viscera removed with a melon-baller.”
“S: Here’s the big difference though: Everyone was rooting for Ali. He never came even 10% close to facing the scrutiny, vitriol and 24/7 news cycle microscope that Tiger will face.”
Pierce lays into him.
“Everyone” was rooting for Ali? The FBI certainly wasn’t. Federal prosecutors certainly weren’t. For that matter, the federal government in toto wasn’t too fond of him. Various factions of the Nation Of Islam were dubious at best. He was virtually broke. Half the country thought he should be doing roadwork in a cellblock at Leavenworth because he was a draft dodger, and too many people thought he should have been locked up simply for being a black man who was ungrateful for the blessings of white America. As some of you may recall, the Vietnam War and its attendant traumas were a fairly divisive period in our history, and were well beyond the moment when the helicopters lifted off from the roof of the embassy.
He then makes it personal.
This isn’t hard. This not stuff you have to have lived through. This is stuff you can find out by, you know, reading, which is said to be fundamental. Let us be kind and suggest that young Bill perhaps is unread on the subject of The Sixties, possibly because The Karate Kid was not set in that era.
So Bill Simmons, in the midst of a three-hour online chat, oversimplifies a historical happening to support his main point, that Ali never had to face the Internet and 24/7 news cycle. What does this matter? Who gives a shit? Why does this require public excoriation?
Pierce’s lame hatchet job says far more about himself than it does about Simmons. Maybe it’s because the Sports Guy did tell him to (expletive) himself at the beginning of the last decade. Maybe he’s jealous that Simmons was able to construct a lucrative cult of personality without becoming a raving hemorrhoid in a Hawaiian shirt.
Regardless, being a cruel pedant is unseemly and a man with the wit and purported wisdom of Charlie Pierce should know that.
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