Thursday, October 1, 2015

Bill Simmons: Mediocre Football Handicapper

Everyone's favorite internet sports personality, Bill Simmons. resurfaced this morning with two new podcasts  available for download.  Say this for Simmons - he knows what he likes and what he thinks his fans like, and he's going to continue to give it to them.  The first two podcasts were a rambling session with JackO and the weekly Guess-The-Lines segment with Sal.  Outside of the lack of music and some open potshots at Chris Berman, it was tough to differentiate it from his old ESPN podcast.

We won't comment here on whether the podcasts are any good - some people love them, others hate them.  (We will note that the amount of smugness was off the charts, but hey, to use horse racing parlance, Simmons is coming off a long layoff and with new connections, and may have needed a start.)  What the Sal Podcast did remind us, though, is that Simmons' NFL thoughts are far from cogent and often without any basis.  This has been evidenced for nearly a decade by his selections from his ESPN column.  While Simmons would love to have us believe that he's a great handicapper, we looked at his results from 2004 forward, and we found that he's slightly above .500 with his picks but well in the red once the vig is taken into account:

W L T % "Profit"
2014 101 93 4 52.06%  $           (130.00)
2013 95 121 6 43.98%  $        (3,810.00)
2012 132 120 4 52.38%  $                   -  
2011 120 127 9 48.58%  $        (1,970.00)
2010 131 119 6 52.40%  $              10.00
2009 133 116 5 53.41%  $            540.00
2008 132 116 8 53.23%  $            440.00
2007 118 129 7 47.77%  $        (2,390.00)
2006 128 122 6 51.20%  $           (620.00)
2005 124 124 6 50.00%  $        (1,240.00)
2004 120 112 8 51.72%  $           (320.00)
TOTAL 1334 1299 69 50.66%  $        (9,490.00)

So for the record, that 3 out of 11 years in the black, with a loss approaching 10 grand for a decade. Even just the picks straight up against the spread are a mere 35 games over .500, which is basically within the margin of error on tossing a coin.  We certainly hope Bill is not funding his children's college fund with his wagers.

We are not saying we would do much better - we are not football handicappers, and have never pretended to be.  But we do think that everyone who prognosticates is worthy of some scrutiny - that's why we put up our picks for Triple Crown and Breeders Cup races and look back at them afterwards.  (In sum: we're great at the TC and all over the map in the BC.)  If you're going to pass yourself off as someone who understands Vegas and is equipped to deal with point spreads, perhaps your overall record should come close to backing it up.

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