December 18, 2006

Brush With Greatness

After uncharacteristically being away from the computer for a couple hours Friday afternoon, I signed back online to find several dozen confusing, relatively urgent-looking e-mails waiting for me. It turns out that Bill Simmons mentioned me in one of his columns over at That's enough to warrant a slew of e-mails by itself, since I'm a huge fan of Simmons and have made my admiration of him very clear here over the years, but there was more behind my e-mailbox being full.

Simmons' piece Friday was a "mailbag" column, where his readers send him random e-mails that he publishes and then responds to. Apparently one of the e-mailers decided to take something that I wrote in one of my RotoWorld columns last week and pass it off as his own thought, leading to this question-and-answer exchange in Simmons' article:

Q: Some day, someone may very well write a riveting book about the mess that is the Oakland Raiders in Art Shell's second stint as head coach. If that day comes--and the sooner the better I say, so someone get David Halberstam on the phone--my suggestion is that the first chapter begins with this quote, which came out of Shell's mouth earlier this week: "We're doing the right things out on the practice field, but then taking it to the game has been a problem for us."

As soon as I saw that in print, I immediately pictured the Raiders in an offense-only practice drill, with Aaron Books flawlessly racking up huge yardage on long bombs to Randy Moss with no defenders in sight and Shell repeatedly nodding his head "yes" from the sidelines. That's probably not quite what Shell meant, but I still think "It Worked So Well In Practice: The Art Shell Story" would be an excellent title for the as-yet-unreleased masterpiece.

--Jon S., San Francisco

SG: First of all, we'd like to apologize to Aaron Gleeman of, since that e-mail was completely ripped off from his column Thursday. (Our apologies, we found this out after we posted the column. Can we all agree not plagiarize other writers for mailbag questions? Thanks.)

Anyway, here are the top-seven sports books that need to be written:

Simmons went on to name his top seven "sports books that need to be written," listing "It Worked So Well In Practice: The Art Shell Story" in the No. 3 spot. Those of you who read my "Daily Dose" column Wednesday will recognize that title and the entire Shell passage quoted above, because they were lifted word-for-word from me. Apparently "Jon S." passed it off as his, Simmons published it, and then someone who read Simmons' article noticed the plagiarism and sent him a link to my article.

From start to finish, the whole thing went on while I was away from the computer, which is why the many e-mails I found upon my return were initially so confusing. It's odd having a quasi-incident you're tangentially involved with start and end before you even knew it existed. In a way I feel sort of robbed, because I'm curious about how I would have reacted if, say, I stumbled across the plagiarism before Simmons had been tipped off to it. It's possible I missed out on having a hissy-fit, which is a shame.

The moral of the story--if there is one, which is doubtful--is that Simmons acted very quickly to issue a correction of sorts within his column and even went the extra mile by sending me a personal e-mail to explain the situation. As I told Bill (we're such close friends now that I feel comfortable calling him by his first name), I'm honored to have been mentioned in his columns, regardless of the circumstances that got me there.

Actually, I somehow managed to coax three e-mail responses out of Simmons, which was quite a thrill for me. We talked about Kevin Garnett, Allen Iverson, Marko Jaric, Jim Peterson, The Godfather, last year's Timberwolves-Celtics trade, and the Sports Illustrated article that featured both of us. In fact, I "introduced" myself to Simmons by saying, "I'm the guy writing from bed with the Boston Terrier on his lap in the Sports Illustrated article about you."

I always knew being profiled in the world's most influential sports magazine would come in handy some day. At one point in our e-mail exchange Simmons called what I wrote about Shell "really funny, excellent work," which makes me want to get plagiarized more often. Hell, now that I've managed to exchange e-mails with one of the best and most famous sportswriters in the world, the next step is to work being plagiarized into a date with Keeley Hazell. Let's see "Jon. S" make that happen.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

My latest video appearance is on's "Baseball Fantasy Fix" show, which is scheduled to air each Friday throughout the offseason. The show is hosted by my RotoWorld colleague Gregg Rosenthal and Tiffany Simons, who've hosted the "Football Fantasy Fix" show throughout the NFL season. Since Gregg and Tiffany shoot the show on the East Coast and I'm in Minnesota, the plan is for them to throw it to me for one segment each week.

I'd encourage everyone to watch the first episode and, as always, feel free to offer up (constructive) comments and/or (realistic) suggestions. Also, if you missed my video report last week on Daisuke Matsuzaka signing with the Red Sox, please check that out as well. If nothing else, all this appearing on video stuff has me shaving a lot more regularly, which makes my grandma very happy. And really, if you think about it, that's the goal.

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