Two Things We Want to See From Bill Simmons' New HBO Show (And One Thing We Don't)
It feels like just yesterday when sports fans were wasting time at work reading the musings of Bill Simmons, aka "The Sports Guy," on ESPN.com's much-missed site Page 2. He managed to talk about sports from the fans' perspective, instead of that of a jaded sportswriter who had to listen to Derek Jeter prattle on about nothing every day for years. He openly rooted for his beloved Boston sports teams, and seemed to openly weep when the Red Sox finally won the World Series in 2004. I was moved by his writing about that title, and I'm a Yankees fan.
Anyway, even if you didn't read a Sports Guy column in many years, you still were stunned when Simmons got the boot from the Worldwide Leader last year, and have been eagerly awaiting his return to the scene via HBO. Well, now you have a date and a title: Starting on June 22, Any Given Wednesday will be hosted by Simmons and contain longform interviews, field pieces and commentary on sports and pop culture.
Here are a couple of things we want to see from Simmons' show... and one thing we don't:
Insightful interviews with people other shows can't get.
If you have ever listened to the interviews Simmons did on his The BS Report podcast, you know that his eye-of-the-fan curiosity extends to his interview style; he asks questions people want to know the answers to, and his easygoing manner gets people to relax. You don't get President Obama, for instance, to talk about his favorite character from The Wire, if you haven't established some sort of rapport first.
Some Grantland-style intelligence.
Even if you're not a fan of Simmons' bro-like writing style, you have to admit that he put together an all-star cast at the now-shuttered ESPN vanity site Grantland, mixing expert sports analysis with provocative pop culture experts. Some of those writers have joined him at his new website, The Ringer, and the hope is that we see reports from some of them on Any Given Wednesday.
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No gambling stories or other stories about Simmons' buddies.
Simmons doesn't have to act like an old fuddy-duddy. But the guy is in his late 40s and has a couple of kids. He's the head of a burgeoning media empire and is being paid millions. We don't need to hear about his supposedly "wild" trips to Vegas or about his buddies from back in Boston anymore. That life is over a decade in his rear-view mirror, and at this age, it basically sounds more sad than interesting.
What would you like to see on Any Given Wednesday?