We'll Show You Why McKenzie Blane Falls Mainly On Tulane, And We'll Do Other Things That Rhyme As Well

It may come as a shock to the small but mighty band of loyal readers of this blog that I'm a big fan of Bill Simmons, aka The Sports Guy. The news no doubt comes as a surprise to several guys I went to school with, who must have figured I was gay (I'm not) after I confessed to not giving a single flying crap about pretty much any televised sporting event (which I still don't). But that was more a fault of our environment than anything else — after all, at a college where gay guys in the dorms are often hazed, there's a hunt-and-kill vibe surrounding anything that doesn't match up with the university's subliminal party line that encouraged us to become CPAs, marry Kojies, and move to Plano.Anyway: I like Bill Simmons, even if I don't follow half the references in the mailbag. I enjoy Simmons' columns for several reasons: (1) He's freakishly pop-culture literate, referencing a host of films and TV shows over the past 30 years, ranging from the obscure to the mainstream. His rundowns of various movies are constantly entertaining, displaying a sharp sense of Gen-Xish humor and a solid mastery of comedic writing. (And as anyone who saw his appearance on "The Colbert Report" knows, performance-based humor and written humor are two different animals.) I also like his opinions on movies for what they are: A kind of critical low-road that's 50% heart, 45% emotional memory, and 5% actual critical analysis. I mean, come on, there are only so many times you can name-check Screech and expect to be taken seriously. (2) He's smart enough to make smarter friends, and enhance his writing through relationships with authors like Malcolm Gladwell and Chuck Klosterman, the latter of whom can write circles around Simmons when it comes to pop culture. (3) Most of all, Simmons brings enough energy, knowledge, and skill to his writing that he's not simply producing a good sports column; he's simply writing a good column, one that happens to be about sports. However, in recent weeks, as the football season has progressed and I, blissfully unaware, have contented myself with movies and vicarious fantasy-team victories, I've noticed a trend in Simmons' columns, specifically his weekly NFL prediction posts. Namely: I totally identify with his wife. This is probably the last thing my friends want to hear, but I should explain. In his first predictions column of the season, Simmons related an event in which his wife, who hates football with a passion, managed to consistently pick winners in the weekly match-ups. Simmons wondered: "Can I even pick games better than someone who doesn't know ANYTHING?" (And don't be surprised if that link stops working soon; ESPN is mighty protective of their stuff.) So he added "a wrinkle" to this year's picks columns: He would give his wife a small block of space to let her write a few hundred words on any topic she desired and lay out her picks for the week. His wife, dubbed The Sports Gal in the column, proceeded to write about life in L.A., her distaste for Lindsay Lohan, and her opinions on "The Bachelor." Then she'd list her picks and her season record. The best part is that she's winning. As of the Week 6 picks, she's at 40-29-5 for the season, and last week went 5-6-3. Simmons, on the other hand, is 33-36-5 for the season so far, and was 4-7-3 last week. Simmons is infinitely more knowledgable about football than I would ever hope to be, and when it comes to picking winners, he's still getting schooled by his wife, who couldn't care less about the games. This is good news for me, and a source of certain hope. Here I'd been laboring under the delusion that my friends' passion had over time gifted them with certain abilities when it comes to predicting winners or analyzing games, as evidenced by the constant flow of fantasy-roster speculation that clogs the office. But it turns out that there's no secret, no special trick to doing it. There are no special powers involved. No amount of insight can match the dumb luck you get from drawing names from a hat, or even using the Balki Bartokomous method of picking winners based which mascot would win in a fight.