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Wednesday, April 30, 2003
Updated: May 31, 2:17 PM ET
Life in Bizarro Sports World

By Bill Simmons
Page 2 columnist

Editor's Note: This column appears in the May 12 edition of ESPN The Magazine.

On the night before the 2003 NFL draft, my beloved Patriots were mulling a trade for Dewayne Robertson. Would they sacrifice multiple picks for Detroit's No. 2? When the draft kicked off on Saturday, and the Lions came on the clock, you could feel the tension mount among Pats fans everywhere. Except in my house.

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  • I was asleep.

    For the last five months, I've been living in sunny California, where you tend to forget things like the NFL draft starting at 9 in the morning. When I rolled out around 9:50 and clicked on what I thought was SportsCenter, Berman and Kiper were staring back at me. Aaaaaaaah! Turned out I'd missed five picks, including New England's nontrade. And as if that wasn't enough, imagine waking up in your boxers, wiping the crust out of your eyes and being greeted by Berman's mug?

    Forget the impeccable weather, gourmet grocery stores, friendly neighbors, endless celebrity sightings, all that silicone & and traffic so stifling that I haven't driven faster than 37 mph since October. My biggest adjustment has been living in Bizarro Sports World and trying to get the times straight. Football starts during breakfast, Monday Night Football during dinner, NBA games in the middle of the workday. SportsCenter comes on at ... well, I still haven't figured that out. I'm living in an alternate universe. Remember Red in The Shawshank Redemption after he gets paroled, when he keeps forgetting he doesn't have to ask his boss for a bathroom break, and the whole thing is just too weird for him? That's me.

    Carson Palmer
    The only thing worse than morning breath is the Bengals on the clock.
    Some Eastern transplants swear by the West Coast sports experience. They always list the same reasons:

    1. Every game finishes by 10 at night, so you can check Internet box scores for your fantasy guys before you hit the sack. Translation: You can dork it up more than ever. (I'm not against this, by the way.)

    2. Newspapers have all the late scores. Then again, that "Cool, this paper has the late scores!" surprise back East was a little like playing roulette.

    3. You can watch the early NFL games at 10, skip the late ones and have the entire afternoon for the beach, mountain hikes, girlfriend maintenance or whatever. Very true & if you've been castrated. I mean, come on! Skip the late games? Why not just rip the vertebrae out of your spine and sell them one by one on eBay?

    4. You're not staying up past midnight waiting for a winner of those marquee events. It's nice to have World Series games end before Letterman (whoops, I mean Kimmel). Then again, I kind of like staying up late. It's a badge of honor. You know, stay up way too long, don't get enough sleep, brag about it the next day ... who doesn't secretly enjoy that?

    Nomar Garciaparra
    Rise and shine, Bill! Nomar hit one out!
    5. There's nothing like waking up and watching a game. Yes and no. For football, it's great: I never liked that interminable wait until 1. It just encourages more gambling. But Game 4 of the Pacers-Celts series at 9 on a Sunday morning? I mean, here's a pivotal playoff game, I'm supposed to be clapping and screaming, and I haven't even had coffee yet? And what about the Patriots-Lions Thanksgiving game starting at 9:30? Can you even think about turkey, let alone over/unders, so early? The Sox just lost a Patriots Day game that ended at 11:30 here. It's not easy finishing a workday when your baseball team has lost before lunch.

    My buddies out here maintain I'll get used to it. They remind me that it's strangely enjoyable to see the Magic and Pistons battle at 5 on a Wednesday, that I'll appreciate MNF games ending at a normal time, that I can catch the late SportsCenter every night even when it's hosted by Ernie, the newsroom janitor. All good points.

    But when you're watching the NFL Draft Tracker while scarfing down some scrambled eggs, and it doesn't seem remotely weird ... that's when you know living in Bizarro Sports World has officially corrupted you. Especially if those eggs are scrambled with tofu.

    Thankfully, I'm not there yet.

    Bill Simmons is a columnist for Page 2 and ESPN The Magazine, and he's a writer for Jimmy Kimmel Live.