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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Jay Mariotti: Bill Simmons and the Death of Sports Media

Thick and zesty…It’s in there.

A fanboy should not be a sports columnist, a TV analyst and a website editor. A fanboy should remain a fanboy, root vacuously for his teams and leave the serious work to the trained journalists. Several years ago, ESPN turned a fanboy named Bill Simmons into a blogging cartoon character — the Sports Guy, he was called — who was cast as a role model for legions of other fanboys unqualified for professional sports media and used by the network to generate traffic for then-fledgling ESPN.com.

This was when the Internet was swallowing the world and newspapers were starting to die, a perfect segue to a sportswriting fad. Problem was, Simmons spawned a lot of other fanboys who could become sportswriters simply by signing onto Word Press and launching blogs. Around this time, web entrepreneurs with no conscience about accountability and ethics launched their own grubby sites, then hired fanboys for pennies while ordering them to accrue as many clicks as possible by whatever means possible, even if it meant stalking famous athletes and media people and publishing blatant lies, blind items, dick and vagina photos, whatever attracted the eyeballs of various stoners and losers.

All of which brings us to Simmons today. Having ruined the sports media industry in too many ways to count, he now finds himself in an unforgivable legal predicament that could end his hollow reign atop a media empire that should know better. It was Simmons, as editor-in-chief of ESPN’s Grantland spinoff site, who approved the publication of a piece last week called “Dr. V’s Magical Putter.” The story was intended to determine the legitimacy of a unique piece of golf equipment. It ended with the transgender community crying foul over the insensitive work of the story’s author, Caleb Hannan, who discovered in the course of his reporting that the putter’s inventor, Essay Anne Vanderbilt, was a transgender person.

...In my world, Simmons doesn’t write well, doesn’t do TV well and really doesn’t do much of anything but schmooze the right people. At ESPN, any guy off the street — myself included, I suppose — could do a few shows and become a star, based simply on the network’s massive clout and reach. But at some point, there has to be a redeeming value to a personality. And don’t tell me about page views, unique visitors and Twitter followers — the biggest ongoing scam in the web media is how people buy and fabricate numbers, in some cases by the hundreds of thousands. Ignore numbers.

Bill Simmons, BS for short, is the product of a network so big that it can make media sensations out of hubcaps. Now that he has become a liability to that network, expect him any day back in the Garden with his Celtics jersey. Once a fanboy, always a fanboy.

Repoz Posted: January 22, 2014 at 07:49 AM | 423 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: media

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   1. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 22, 2014 at 08:00 AM (#4643905)
The green-eyed monster!
   2. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: January 22, 2014 at 08:29 AM (#4643908)
This is like Jerry Lewis saying that female comediennes aren't funny, or Newt Gingrich or Eliot Spitzer complaining about declining moral values.
   3. Lassus Posted: January 22, 2014 at 08:35 AM (#4643910)
This is a pretty desperate - if specifically calculated - trolling effort.

I'm not sure Simmons will do so, but complete and utter indifference to this would be the right response. "Who? Oh, I dunno. I suppose he's unhappy about something."
   4. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: January 22, 2014 at 08:38 AM (#4643912)
Jerry Lewis was funny!
   5. bunyon Posted: January 22, 2014 at 08:49 AM (#4643915)
I'm deeply conflicted. On the one hand, it's Marriotti, who I despise. But he's slamming Simmons, who I loathe.

What to do?
   6. salvomania Posted: January 22, 2014 at 08:52 AM (#4643916)
leave the serious work to the trained journalists.

Uh, we're talking about sportwriting here, right? What a f*cking ego.
   7. TVerik, the gum-snappin' hairdresser Posted: January 22, 2014 at 09:12 AM (#4643922)
Look: I'm sorry if I'm late to this discussion. But I only learned of this controversy yesterday.

I am closer to Marriotti than to Simmons on this one. It was obvious that this story was explosive (the subject killed herself because of this story). They should have paid extra attention to this story, perhaps running it past a few of the LGBT people at ESPN (I can tell you that there's a group of activists - not all LGBT themselves - that could have helped out, and (more cynically) given the authors "cover" if this thing blew up). I'm not in favor of putting extra legal layers between a writer's pen and publication, but in this situation, I think PR caution was warranted. And yes, a more seasoned editor would have probably known that.
   8. Bug Selig Posted: January 22, 2014 at 09:24 AM (#4643927)
It makes me so mad I want to go home and beat the #### out of my significant other. Who's with me?!?

Jay, your soapbox was confiscated long ago. Stop trying to stand on it.
   9. Paul D(uda) Posted: January 22, 2014 at 09:25 AM (#4643929)
I don't think it's clear, at all, the she killed herself because of the story.
   10. Dan The Mediocre Posted: January 22, 2014 at 09:31 AM (#4643930)
I don't think it's clear, at all, the she killed herself because of the story.


She did have a history of suicide attempts. And she had built up a massive web of lies about a lot of aspects of her life (such as her education) that were going to be revealed, so I am inclined to think she commits suicide even if she isn't outed as a transsexual.
   11. TVerik, the gum-snappin' hairdresser Posted: January 22, 2014 at 09:38 AM (#4643934)
She killed herself prior to the publication of the story, so it certainly wasn't a public outing. But I've read up on it a lot this morning, and it appears fairly controversy-free that the spectre of impending publication was a factor for her. She was suidical already, including one attempt back in 2008.

I repeat, though, that the suicide made this into something bigger than a putter. And (and Simmons said this in his apology note later) that they should have run this past some people familiar with the LGBT angle here. Regardless of the cause and effect of the actual suicide, Grantland needed to protect itself legally and in the eye of its readers.

Reading material for those interested:

The article itself (long)

Simmons' "apology" note

Christina Kahrl's column about the whole controversy
   12. Rickey! In a van on 95 south... Posted: January 22, 2014 at 09:40 AM (#4643936)
It was obvious that this story was explosive


After the fact criticisms are always "obvious."

They should have paid extra attention to this story, perhaps running it past a few of the LGBT people at ESPN


After the fact criticisms are always "obvious."

I'm not in favor of putting extra legal layers between a writer's pen and publication, but in this situation, I think PR caution was warranted.


This is more positive press than the trans community has gotten in sports in the last 15 years combined.

And yes, a more seasoned editor would have probably known that.


Meh. Maybe. I don't think there was a large cadre of sports desk editors with Christina Karhl's number in the speed dial list for specific trans issue reviews before this story happened.
   13. Dan Lee prefers good shortstops to great paintings Posted: January 22, 2014 at 09:41 AM (#4643937)
Obviously Mariotti is just concerned about the well-being of the women of America.
   14. Mike Emeigh Posted: January 22, 2014 at 09:41 AM (#4643938)
Whether Ms. Vanderbilt killed herself because of this story or not, the story itself deserves the scorn that Mariotti is heaping upon it. Ms. Vanderbilt's gender identity had nothing to do with the main thrust of the article, and Caleb Hannan had no business bringing it into the story.

-- MWE
   15. Lassus Posted: January 22, 2014 at 09:44 AM (#4643940)
And she had built up a massive web of lies about a lot of aspects of her life (such as her education) that were going to be revealed, so I am inclined to think she commits suicide even if she isn't outed as a transsexual.

While this may be the case, there's a time element for the possibility of therapy, healing, and acceptance that I'm inclined to think was completely lost when the author decided to make a national news story about the OMG INSANE MYSTERY of the inventor. I do not think that the author can be held responsible for the suicide, but I do think that there is a level of thoughtfulness about the subject that was lost in the fervent pursuit of a good story and the writer's own career.

While what TVErik write makes sense, Mariotti is a complete tool, and I have a hard time imagining Mariotti would be the editor TVErik is referring to.
   16. Mike Emeigh Posted: January 22, 2014 at 09:44 AM (#4643941)
I don't think there was a large cadre of sports desk editors with Christina Kahrl's number in the speed dial list for specific trans issue reviews before this story happened.


She would certainly have been in ESPN's directory, and as a board member of GLAAD and an activist in the GLBT community I would anticipate that a number of other sports editors would have known who she was.

-- MWE
   17. TVerik, the gum-snappin' hairdresser Posted: January 22, 2014 at 09:47 AM (#4643944)
After the fact criticisms are always "obvious."


You don't believe the story to be explosive? A story about a putter, in which the main "character" dies and accuses the author of a "hate crime"?

Simmons said that they had multiple lawyers look into it. I think that it's thoroughly reasonable to ask that they run it past the LGBT community as well. At the very least, some sensitivity to this would have gotten the pronouns in the piece right, as well as expunging the most insensitive-sounding passage (upon learning of her past, the author says "A chill ran down my spine". That part could go without changing anything else, or at the very least be rephrased.
   18. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 22, 2014 at 09:50 AM (#4643946)
I'm deeply conflicted. On the one hand, it's Marriotti, who I despise. But he's slamming Simmons, who I loathe.

What to do?


Pretty much sums up my feelings.

It's the hack hacking on the hackiest hack.
   19. TDF, situational idiot Posted: January 22, 2014 at 09:51 AM (#4643947)
I am closer to Marriotti than to Simmons on this one. It was obvious that this story was explosive (the subject killed herself because of this story). They should have paid extra attention to this story, perhaps running it past a few of the LGBT people at ESPN (I can tell you that there's a group of activists - not all LGBT themselves - that could have helped out, and (more cynically) given the authors "cover" if this thing blew up). I'm not in favor of putting extra legal layers between a writer's pen and publication, but in this situation, I think PR caution was warranted. And yes, a more seasoned editor would have probably known that.
Yesterday, I wrote a long email to Simmons. In the first part, I said essentially what MWE says above - that Dr. V's sexuality had absolutely nothing to do with anything (I asked if he would have run the article if instead of "transsexual" Dr. V had been "outed" as a "Jew" or "Romany").

And then I contrasted that to the Grantland article posted here about a month ago that defended how reporters didn't report during the Steroid Era - how they hid behind "no one would go on record" and "I never wanted to be an investigative reporter" so they wouldn't have to actually, you know, work.

Both articles, I think, have a lesson for journalists - if something isn't important to the story, leave it alone; but if something is important, go after it with everything.
   20. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: January 22, 2014 at 09:52 AM (#4643948)
It won't really affect Simmons but I imagine this is the end of Caleb Hannan's burgeoning writing career.
   21. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: January 22, 2014 at 09:54 AM (#4643950)
I'm deeply conflicted. On the one hand, it's Marriotti, who I despise. But he's slamming Simmons, who I loathe.


Why do you loathe Simmons? I can certainly understand why someone may not like him, but 'loathe'? What has he done that is detestable?

Simmons's apology is a better piece than Mariotti has ever written. And feel whatever you will about Simmons, Grantland has by far the best collection of sports journalism around.
   22. Lassus Posted: January 22, 2014 at 09:58 AM (#4643953)
I'm deeply conflicted. On the one hand, it's Marriotti, who I despise. But he's slamming Simmons, who I loathe.
What to do?

Pretty much sums up my feelings.
It's the hack hacking on the hackiest hack.

I think Grantland as a whole screwed up here, and badly, but honestly I don't think it's fair to call Simmons a hack. He made a career for himself out of years of hard work and a level of talent and intelligence that I don't think was ever present in Mariotti's writing. I'm sympathetic to disliking him and his writing, but I don't think that's the same thing as empirical lack of talent. I'm not even a huge fan, but there are reams upon reams of hackier work out there, sportswise. Even with this misstep, Grantland has been lauded, 30 for 30 has been lauded. I'm not convinced some of Mariotti's jealousy about Simmons' regular guy status isn't contained in various negative judgments of his work. YMMV

   23. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: January 22, 2014 at 10:01 AM (#4643955)
They should have paid extra attention to this story, perhaps running it past a few of the LGBT people at ESPN (I can tell you that there's a group of activists - not all LGBT themselves - that could have helped out, and (more cynically) given the authors "cover" if this thing blew up). I'm not in favor of putting extra legal layers between a writer's pen and publication, but in this situation, I think PR caution was warranted. And yes, a more seasoned editor would have probably known that.



From Simmons's apology:

Before we officially decided to post Caleb’s piece, we tried to stick as many trained eyeballs on it as possible. Somewhere between 13 and 15 people read the piece in all, including every senior editor but one, our two lead copy desk editors, our publisher and even ESPN.com’s editor-in-chief. All of them were blown away by the piece. Everyone thought we should run it. Ultimately, it was my call. So if you want to rip anyone involved in this process, please, direct your anger and your invective at me. Don’t blame Caleb or anyone that works for me. It’s my site and anything this significant is my call. Blame me. I didn’t ask the biggest and most important question before we ran it — that’s my fault and only my fault.


Simmons agrees with you re: having trans-experienced people review the article, but clearly even 'more seasoned editors' gave the approval as well as Simmons.

   24. Der-K: Hipster doofus Posted: January 22, 2014 at 10:02 AM (#4643956)
I was hoping we'd have a thread on this, though not because of Marrioti.

I recommended the original article to a few people after reading it as:
- it was interesting
- Hannan butchered the TS angle (and, yes, it was obvious before the story "exploded"), which he shouldn't have included^ and certainly not with the seeming relish and gender pronoun confusion he did (and I'd wanted to hear what friends thought of this. Now it's a bigger conversation).

^ I 90% agree that it's not relevant to the story, though it does add color to the descriptions of Vanderbilt's opacity + it's fair for ESPN to not want to miss a detail that would be of interest to readers that will likely get picked up by another outlet in time. That said, I'd "vote" to not mention it.

I've been critical of Simmons lots of times on this site (though I did buy and enjoy his basketball book, even if not unreservedly), but thought his apology was pretty solid, as was Kahrl's commentary.

Can Hannan get past this? I think so, eventually. Don't envy where he's gotten himself though.
   25. TDF, situational idiot Posted: January 22, 2014 at 10:10 AM (#4643964)
I 90% agree that it's not relevant to the story, though it does add color to the descriptions of Vanderbilt's opacity + it's fair for ESPN to not want to miss a detail that would be of interest to readers that will likely get picked up by another outlet in time
Again - replace "transsexual" with "Jewish" (because, as we all know, those people will swindle you every chance they get) and tell me it's still a critical part of the story.

Because what you're (not you, but "you" the writer) implying is that if she'll hide her "true" gender, what else will she hide?
   26. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 22, 2014 at 10:10 AM (#4643965)
I think Grantland as a whole screwed up here, and badly, but honestly I don't think it's fair to call Simmons a hack. He made a career for himself out of years of hard work and a level of talent and intelligence that I don't think was ever present in Mariotti's writing. I'm sympathetic to disliking him and his writing, but I don't think that's the same thing as empirical lack of talent. I'm not even a huge fan, but there are reams upon reams of hackier work out there, sportswise. Even with this misstep, Grantland has been lauded, 30 for 30 has been lauded. I'm not convinced some of Mariotti's jealousy about Simmons' regular guy status isn't contained in various negative judgments of his work. YMMV

Sorry, I think his writing is uninteresting, and I find his "sports bro" persona grating and obnoxious. I couldn't stand listening to "Scully from Southie" pontificate in Boston bars or on Sports radio, why would I want to read a column by him?
Does anyone really find it interesting to read about him and his idiot friends and their various idiot exploits?

Caveat: I haven't read anything Simmonds has written in at least 5 years, intentionally. So, if he has gotten good recently, I wouldn't know it.
   27. Rickey! In a van on 95 south... Posted: January 22, 2014 at 10:10 AM (#4643966)
You don't believe the story to be explosive? A story about a putter, in which the main "character" dies and accuses the author of a "hate crime"?


The story is "explosive" because Vanderbilt committed suicide. Was Grantland aware of the suicide before the story ran?
   28. Der-K: Hipster doofus Posted: January 22, 2014 at 10:11 AM (#4643967)
25 - As part of the story of her sexual harassment lawsuit, it's of interest. Granted that could've been dealt with in a different way as well.
I accept your point. (Having said that, I didn't read it as 'hide her "true" gender', more like 'hide her real story', though phrases like 'Every time he said “she” or “her” I could practically see him making air quotes. Finally it hit me. Cliché or not, a chill actually ran up my spine.' might put the lie to my thinking here.)

27 - Yeah, it's in the story.
   29. Lassus Posted: January 22, 2014 at 10:14 AM (#4643972)
Before we officially decided to post Caleb’s piece, we tried to stick as many trained eyeballs on it as possible. Somewhere between 13 and 15 people read the piece in all, including every senior editor but one, our two lead copy desk editors, our publisher and even ESPN.com’s editor-in-chief. All of them were blown away by the piece. Everyone thought we should run it.

Simmons agrees with you re: having trans-experienced people review the article, but clearly even 'more seasoned editors' gave the approval as well as Simmons.

I'm not allowed to connect to ESPN at work. Does it say somewhere that anyone OTHER than people directly connected to ESPN's wares read the article? If not, I'm actually somewhat less sympathetic to Simmons and ESPN than I was before. "We showed it to everyone here, we all thought it was awesome"?
   30. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: January 22, 2014 at 10:16 AM (#4643975)
When I first read the article, in its "every serious journo is tweeting it approvingly phase", the only chill that went up my spine was when I realized that the woman had committed suicide and the lack of sympathy for her outing and death.

That being said, I think that her gender identity was relevant to the article. But the writer was not - and could not have been - the right one to report it - just as I wouldn't've been. If I was in Hannan's shoes, I throw up my hands, go to my boss, and tell them I'm co-reporting this with someone else. Maybe another reporter can write a sidebar or something.
   31. TDF, situational idiot Posted: January 22, 2014 at 10:17 AM (#4643977)
I've been critical of Simmons lots of times on this site (though I did buy and enjoy his basketball book, even if not unreservedly), but thought his apology was pretty solid, as was Kahrl's commentary.
Again, I disagree and kind of disagree.

The "apology" was nothing more than "gee, I'm really sorry I didn't know any better". As an editor (and, effectively, publisher) it's his job to "know better". I don't think any level of "I didn't know any better" should cover him here.

As for Kahrl, I agree what she wrote was solid but I think it's somewhat beside the point. Even if the transsexual community didn't have awful suicide rates, and even if Dr. V hadn't killed herself (and I agree that no one can know what effect, if any, the article had), it was horrible journalism to do what Hannan did.
   32. TerpNats Posted: January 22, 2014 at 10:17 AM (#4643978)
I'm deeply conflicted. On the one hand, it's Marriotti, who I despise. But he's slamming Simmons, who I loathe.
This is the stopped clock that tells the right time twice a day.
   33. Lassus Posted: January 22, 2014 at 10:18 AM (#4643979)
That being said, I think that her gender identity was relevant to the article.

In what manner?
   34. Der-K: Hipster doofus Posted: January 22, 2014 at 10:20 AM (#4643981)
As an editor (and, effectively, publisher) it's his job to "know better". I don't think any level of "I didn't know any better" should cover him here.
I don't think that it does - and read his apology as agreeing with you in that.
Having said that - you and he obviously still disagree on the newsworthiness of the TS issue.
   35. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: January 22, 2014 at 10:21 AM (#4643982)
I'm not allowed to connect to ESPN at work. Does it say somewhere that anyone OTHER than people directly connected to ESPN's wares read the article? If not, I'm actually somewhat less sympathetic to Simmons and ESPN than I was before. "We showed it to everyone here, we all thought it was awesome"?


No that's who looked at it. But isn't that what should happen? I don't think the New York Times runs their stories past the Washington Post editors before they run it.

From reading the piece and Simmons' apology I think it's clear that Grantland made a mistake and deserves criticism and that Grantland learned some lessons from this. Where I think they got it really wrong is they have access to a transgendered writer on ESPN's staff. It seems like a no brainer for someone in the chain of command at some point to have said "hey, let's ask Christina for her thoughts."

They blew it but they seem to realize they blew it.
   36. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: January 22, 2014 at 10:25 AM (#4643983)
Caveat: I haven't read anything Simmonds has written in at least 5 years, intentionally. So, if he has gotten good recently, I wouldn't know it.


He has not. His good writing ended in about 2003. Now that he's famous and routinely hangs out with celebrities, he writes only the bare minimum ESPN requires him to and with minimal effort. He's Manchild Rick Reilly now.
   37. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: January 22, 2014 at 10:27 AM (#4643987)
That being said, I think that her gender identity was relevant to the article.

In what manner?


In the manner that she had supposed credentials, and when you investigate those credentials you discover that there is no one with that name in her past. Why? Because she changed it. Why? Because she changed her gender.

I think you could probably omit the changing gender part and its still an interesting story, but I can understand why someone ignorant to trans issues may think nothing of it and leave it in. Its fascinating, is it not? I think if you read "she changed her name" you're kinda curious as to why, right?
   38. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: January 22, 2014 at 10:30 AM (#4643991)
Ms. Vanderbilt's gender identity had nothing to do with the main thrust of the article, and Caleb Hannan had no business bringing it into the story.


I don't agree with this. It should have been presented in a more respectful manner (and maybe without as much specific information about Vanderbilt's pre-transition identity), but it was relevant to the piece. If you're going to bring up the fact that Vanderbilt told an extensive series of lies about her background while securing financing for her putter, then addressing the question of why she did that is important.
   39. Scott Lange Posted: January 22, 2014 at 10:31 AM (#4643992)
First, I think Simmons's apology was very solid. He took responsibility and he correctly identified the root cause of the problem (a groupthink or lack of diversity among the people reviewing the piece). But I'm struggling with this part of it:

Ms. Vanderbilt's gender identity had nothing to do with the main thrust of the article, and Caleb Hannan had no business bringing it into the story.


Surely the inventor's falsified credentials are relevant to the story, right? The fake education, the fake work history? And if those things are relevant, then why wouldn't the fake name be relevant? And once you have the fact that her birth name is Stephen but she's going by Essay Anne, then the cat's out of the bag, isn't it?

I consider myself an LGBT ally, and I'm open to an argument that even her trans status is relevant it should still be concealed as a courtesy to someone choosing to remain closeted, but I can't see how you can argue that living under a different name isn't relevant to a piece that is in part about someone's falsified education, career, and credentials. Can someone tell me what I'm missing?
   40. TVerik, the gum-snappin' hairdresser Posted: January 22, 2014 at 10:31 AM (#4643993)
Where I think they got it really wrong is they have access to a transgendered writer on ESPN's staff. It seems like a no brainer for someone in the chain of command at some point to have said "hey, let's ask Christina for her thoughts."


Again, there's an organization at ESPN who advocates/understands these issues. Even if Christina wasn't available to consult, there were easy-to-see options.

This whole thing reminds me - as newsrooms get more and more diverse, I think reporting gains context and is more "real". Over the long haul, it gets a bigger audience as well, as certain groups start to understand that "this writing reflects my understanding of the world, not just that of a white guy fresh out of a Midwestern J-school."

A lot of attention is paid to the "first of" or the uniqueness of a shattering of a glass ceiling. But I think that it is the second generation of this, who sees it as "no big deal". If you had said "black journalist" to my grandfather, he'd have probably freaked out. But it happens all the time now and it not even notable enough to mention most of the time.
   41. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: January 22, 2014 at 10:31 AM (#4643995)

In the manner that she had supposed credentials, and when you investigate those credentials you discover that there is no one with that name in her past. Why? Because she changed it. Why? Because she changed her gender.

I think you could probably omit the changing gender part and its still an interesting story, but I can understand why someone ignorant to trans issues may think nothing of it and leave it in. Its fascinating, is it not? I think if you read "she changed her name" you're kinda curious as to why, right?


I agree, but "she changed her name when she changed her gender in [year]" really is the only necessary mention of it. Hannan indulged in it, but some of the commentary leads me to suspect merely mentioning it was enough to explode in his face.
   42. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: January 22, 2014 at 10:32 AM (#4643998)
Simmons is loathable and the fact that he's so prominent is a running joke.(*) Mariotti has had some issues in his personal life, but he was an excellent columnist and an actual journalist in the proper sense of the word.

I will always choose a quality old-school journalist over a Twitter-era circus act. It's not a remotely hard choice.

(*) I've been watching sports on TV for almost 40 years, and he's easily one of the worst acts ever put in a sports TV studio. Terrible face, terrible voice, silly, foolish smuggy arrogance. Ick, ick, ick.
   43. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: January 22, 2014 at 10:33 AM (#4643999)
That being said, I think that her gender identity was relevant to the article.

In what manner?


Well, I am aware that the current fad is to treat gender identity and sexual identity as immutable core characteristics of a person that are, independent from their ego. As in, the fact that a person is (for example) a woman and straight has nothing to do with any of her other personal characteristics. Therefore, gender identity and sexual orientation are inherently private and irrelvant to any description of a person, except in a purient sense.

That may be the current rule for public discourse, but it has not been my experience.

I have seen people who identify as gay because, in my view, they are healthy and gay and I have seen people who identify as gay because, in my view, they have a host of psychiatric issues and don't know up from down. This cuts both ways - I have friends (I'm thinking of concrete examples) who identify as straight, who I would bet goodly sums of money have, at best, a jumbled sexual orientation but identify as straight because of their odd pathologies. In many instances, I view someone's gender/sexual identity as essential to my understand of who the person is.

Now, you may say (as most do) that it is none of my business to try to see into others' heads, to judge their sexual orientation for them. OK. But, first of all, we all do it anyways, gossiping with our significant others about how you-know-who is so crazy and effete and I bet he's gay. So this is just a matter of what we're permitted to discuss openly, rather than behind closed doors. Second, the whole purpose of the (IMO, fairly noxious) long magazine profile article is for the reporter to project that he has gotten within the head of the subject. If it is kosher for an writer to propose motivations for a subject's distant relationship with his children, or his divorce, or his affair, why is sexual orientation off limits? I would submit that none of that is apporpriate - that a writer telling you what a man thinks and why he does what he does is inherently inappropriate and tells you more about the writer than the subject, but that's not the context in which we all operate.
   44. Lassus Posted: January 22, 2014 at 10:33 AM (#4644000)
No that's who looked at it. But isn't that what should happen? I don't think the New York Times runs their stories past the Washington Post editors before they run it.

I grok this, but I wasn't suggesting CBS Sportsline or FOX. I was suggesting some vaguely modern, objective non-sports thinker. I'm pretty sure at least one of the 13-15 people who saw the article would know one.
   45. Dock Ellis on Acid Posted: January 22, 2014 at 10:34 AM (#4644003)
I have my problems with Simmons but that's more because my tastes have evolved since he came onto the scene. Before I discovered BTF and my pals got hip to post-Moneyball analysis, I had literally no one to discuss sports intelligently with. Rob Neyer was the guy teaching me new things, but Bill Simmons talked to me about sports the same way my friends and I talked about films, music and books. He gave me a lot of entertainment and value once.

I don't follow his stuff much anymore, but good on him for building a heck of a career out of an AOL blog. I would go as far as giving him credit for being a founding father of the internet armchair analysis that's exploded to what we see today, in terms of cultivating an audience and making himself accessible to readers. Whether that's a good thing or a bad thing is another discussion, but would we have guys like Keith Law if it weren't for Bill Simmons?

EDIT: This has nothing to do with the discussion at large, which is a bigger and more serious issue. I didn't RTFA or many of the comments for that matter before I posted this, and I thought we were just busting on Simmons again.
   46. Guapo Posted: January 22, 2014 at 10:34 AM (#4644004)
I read the article after the whole thing blew up and I couldn't fathom why people were recommending the article, putting aside the terrible handling of the trans issues. The article started by suggesting that Dr. V had invented some sort of amazing, revolutionary putter, and then by the end of the article it wasn't clear to me if the putter was in any sense newsworthy. It was pretty clear the whole "hook" of the story was "This chick used to be a dude."
   47. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: January 22, 2014 at 10:35 AM (#4644006)
I agree, but "she changed her name when she changed her gender in [year]" really is the only necessary mention of it. Hannan indulged in it, but some of the commentary leads me to suspect merely mentioning it was enough to explode in his face.


Totally agree. Hannan outing her to one of her fellow investors seems particularly malicious to me.
   48. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: January 22, 2014 at 10:39 AM (#4644011)
Mariotti has had some issues in his personal life, but he was an excellent columnist and an actual journalist in the proper sense of the word.


Please provide a link to an "excellent" column or story by Mariotti. Any one.

(Yes, I know you're trolling. But I'm curious enough about what you'll say to play along.)
   49. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: January 22, 2014 at 10:41 AM (#4644013)
Hannan outing her to one of her fellow investors seems particularly malicious to me.


Again, it could have been presented more respectfully, but I don't know how you write a story about a serial fabulist without asking the subject's business associates how much of the truth they knew, and when.
   50. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: January 22, 2014 at 10:41 AM (#4644015)
Please provide a link to an "excellent" column or story by Mariotti. Any one.

Almost his entire body of work in the late 80s through at least the mid-90s.

The idea that he never wrote an excellent column is biased and silly, barely worthy of discussion. You sound like Sean Hannity on global warning -- "Prove to me the Earth is warming, where's your proof!!!"
   51. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: January 22, 2014 at 10:42 AM (#4644016)
Mariotti can write. He's just such a despicable person that nothing he's ever written has been worth reading, that I'm aware of.

edit: I've never read any actual objective journalism from him. I'm only aware of him in the 21st century as a trolling opinionmongerer who dreams of growing up to be Skip Bayless, only more of an #######.
   52. TVerik, the gum-snappin' hairdresser Posted: January 22, 2014 at 10:43 AM (#4644018)
If it is kosher for an writer to propose motivations for a subject's distant relationship with his children, or his divorce, or his affair, why is sexual orientation off limits? I would submit that none of that is apporpriate - that a writer telling you what a man thinks and why he does what he does is inherently inappropriate and tells you more about the writer than the subject, but that's not the context in which we all operate.


Perhaps I'm misunderstanding you, and I know we largely agree on this point in the end. But I would think that an editor of a reputable news organization wouldn't allow one of these situations to see print. I don't think it's commonplace, or "kosher" for this to happen.
   53. Paul d mobile Posted: January 22, 2014 at 10:47 AM (#4644021)
If you read his apology, Simmons seems to pretty much agree with all the criticism of the original article mentioned here.
   54. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: January 22, 2014 at 10:47 AM (#4644024)
Jerry Lewis was funny!

What are you, one of those cheese eating surrender monkeys?
   55. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: January 22, 2014 at 10:48 AM (#4644025)
Perhaps I'm misunderstanding you, and I know we largely agree on this point in the end. But I would think that an editor of a reputable news organization wouldn't allow one of these situations to see print. I don't think it's commonplace, or "kosher" for this to happen.


I don't agree - maybe not on ESPN.com, but in the places that print true longform - the New Yorker, Rolling Stone, Esquire, etc., it happens all the time. If not explicitly, with a wink and a nudge that isn't intended to be overlooked.
   56. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: January 22, 2014 at 10:48 AM (#4644027)
Almost his entire body of work in the late 80s through at least the mid-90s.

The idea that he never wrote an excellent column is biased and silly, barely worthy of discussion. You sound like Sean Hannity on global warning -- "Prove to me the Earth is warming, where's your proof!!!"


So in other words, you can't provide any specific examples. If he were as good a columnist and journalist as you say, I would've expected there to be lots of them.

(And of course, there's plenty of evidence that the Earth is warming. It's the work of literally moments to point to something like this. So that's pretty much the opposite of the Mariotti thing.)
   57. NJ in DC (Now unemployed!) Posted: January 22, 2014 at 10:49 AM (#4644028)
I think this controversy is symbolic of a bigger "problem" that Grantland (which is probably my favorite website) and other sites have. Due to lack of diversity in their staff, they sometimes have a great deal of difficulty tackling certain issues or understanding various angles to a story. I'm not a transexual, but reading about this story and its fallout reminded me of the various times when I listen to a Grantland podcast and the podcasters tip around issues of race that are germane to whatever discussion that is being had. Of course, the other side of this is that they will sometimes shoehorn Rembert Brown into certain spots to serve as the token black representative.

Regardless, put me in the camp that thinks her gender was possibly a material element of the story, but the handling of it was completely wrong. And the most shocking aspect of all this for me was the simple fact that no one thought maybe we should ask a member of the LGBT community for their perspective on this, at the point where they had already realized it was controversial enough that they needed to have 13 to 15 people review it. Astounding.
   58. Rickey! In a van on 95 south... Posted: January 22, 2014 at 10:52 AM (#4644029)
Regardless of what Mariotti may have written in the 80s, we can all agree that this hit piece is worthless drivel. Jay Mariotti hasn't done "real journalism" since Reagan was in office. All this bit here is is jealously that Bill Simmons and the internet exist.
   59. NJ in DC (Now unemployed!) Posted: January 22, 2014 at 10:52 AM (#4644031)
This whole thing reminds me - as newsrooms get more and more diverse, I think reporting gains context and is more "real". Over the long haul, it gets a bigger audience as well, as certain groups start to understand that "this writing reflects my understanding of the world, not just that of a white guy fresh out of a Midwestern J-school."

I agree with this. I think this is also the gift/curse of the social media/twitter era we live in. If you participate in those mediums at all you are forced to deal with a variety of perspectives, many of which may not mirror your own and you gain a sense of just how much your specific life experiences shape the way you process everything.
   60. Dock Ellis on Acid Posted: January 22, 2014 at 10:57 AM (#4644035)
I don't agree - maybe not on ESPN.com, but in the places that print true longform - the New Yorker, Rolling Stone, Esquire, etc., it happens all the time. If not explicitly, with a wink and a nudge that isn't intended to be overlooked.

This happens all the time with any mention of Against Me!, the punk band with the recently-out transgendered singer. Even in articles that are supposed to focus strictly on the music itself, the writer still feels compelled to bring it up, if only in passing. Not only is irrelevant, but it's also old news. I understand it being a big deal when it was first announced, but I'd rather move on and talk about the quality of the work itself.
   61. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: January 22, 2014 at 10:58 AM (#4644038)
The "apology" was nothing more than "gee, I'm really sorry I didn't know any better". As an editor (and, effectively, publisher) it's his job to "know better". I don't think any level of "I didn't know any better" should cover him here.


If his apology isn't enough for you, then what is? He clearly lays out his thinking, takes ownership for it, and indicates he has learned a lesson. What more is needed? What more CAN he say?
   62. Scott Lange Posted: January 22, 2014 at 10:59 AM (#4644040)
I think this is also the gift/curse of the social media/twitter era we live in. If you participate in those mediums at all you are forced to deal with a variety of perspectives, many of which may not mirror your own and you gain a sense of just how much your specific life experiences shape the way you process everything.


Its funny, but I've been thinking of the twitter era as a gift/curse in just the opposite sense. On the one hand, I've curated a group of 100 or so of the smartest, most insightful people I know to follow. That's great, insofar as it gives me access to loads of great articles and insight, but its limiting in that I've constructed my own bubble. If its getting talked about outside of the fairly distinct circles of people that I have chosen to follow ("baseball nerds," "alt comedians," "Yglesias/Klein wonk bloggers," etc), I'm probably missing out.
   63. Rickey! In a van on 95 south... Posted: January 22, 2014 at 11:02 AM (#4644041)
If his apology isn't enough for you, then what is?


Obviously Bill Simmons needs to be put in stocks in a public square and whipped for his crimes.
   64. just plain joe Posted: January 22, 2014 at 11:08 AM (#4644049)
Obviously Bill Simmons needs to be put in stocks in a public square and whipped for his crimes.


I'm down with that; will it be televised on The Ocho?
   65. Andy McGeady Posted: January 22, 2014 at 11:10 AM (#4644051)
Grantland deserved all they got for this story. At the same time, Grantland deserve props for taking their lumps and dealing with this mess openly.

Mariotti is trying to beat Simmons from every side of this and all that I'm really hearing is "NYYYYAAAAAAHHHH I HATE SIMMONS I HATE SIMMONS I'M SO HAPPY HE'S IN TROUBLE 'COS I HATE HIM NNNYYYYAAAHAHHHHHH"
   66. Kurt Posted: January 22, 2014 at 11:11 AM (#4644053)
This happens all the time with any mention of Against Me!, the punk band with the recently-out transgendered singer. Even in articles that are supposed to focus strictly on the music itself, the writer still feels compelled to bring it up, if only in passing. Not only is irrelevant, but it's also old news. I understand it being a big deal when it was first announced, but I'd rather move on and talk about the quality of the work itself.


Their new album is titled Transgender Dysphoria Blues. I don't know why you wouldn't mention it, particularly considering Against Me isn't the Beatles or Elvis (I had never heard of them until an article in yesterday's Washington Post which, yes, talked about the singer).
   67. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: January 22, 2014 at 11:13 AM (#4644057)
I don't agree - maybe not on ESPN.com, but in the places that print true longform - the New Yorker, Rolling Stone, Esquire, etc., it happens all the time. If not explicitly, with a wink and a nudge that isn't intended to be overlooked.


Who has been outed by one of those publications? People only tend to get outed if they're caught with a dead boy or picking up guys in a airport bathroom.
   68. Rickey! In a van on 95 south... Posted: January 22, 2014 at 11:14 AM (#4644058)
Their new album is titled Transgender Dysphoria Blues.


Yeah. I've enjoyed Against Me!'s work in the past. I thought "White Crosses" as a fine pop-punk offering. But the current story about the band is that Tom Gabel is now Laura Jane Grace and that the new album is called "Transgender Dysphoria Blues." There's not a lot of ways to cover that band and their new album without touching on the trans issue.
   69. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: January 22, 2014 at 11:17 AM (#4644063)
Who has been outed by one of those publications? People only tend to get outed if they're caught with a dead boy or picking up guys in a airport bathroom.


That's exactly my point. They'll engage in longform where they publicize an affair, or discover an illegitimate child who the subject never spoke to. They'll purport to psychoanalyze why the subject has engaged in those behaviors. But discussing someone's sexual orientation - that's verboten. And tying sexual orientation together with other characteristics of the subject is treated as wildly offensive.

My point is that I don't see why gay gets special treatment. I think it's all out of line.
   70. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: January 22, 2014 at 11:17 AM (#4644064)
when this brouhaha finally made its way in my direction i will state what i have said several times as the assessment. if you lack common sense you don't know who to consult for expert advice so you trust your own judgement.

it's a cycle of ineptitude



   71. GGC don't think it can get longer than a novella Posted: January 22, 2014 at 11:20 AM (#4644069)
Simmons, IIRC, studied journalism in school. He just couldn't get a job, so he made his own. I never really got into his columns but his basketball book was good; albeit too lengthy.
   72. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: January 22, 2014 at 11:20 AM (#4644070)
Who has been outed by one of those publications? People only tend to get outed if they're caught with a dead boy or picking up guys in a airport bathroom.


It's not exactly the same thing, but the New York Times more or less outed the identity of one of Jerry Sandusky's rape victims. There was much less justification for that than there was for disclosing Vanderbilt's past.
   73. TVerik, the gum-snappin' hairdresser Posted: January 22, 2014 at 11:25 AM (#4644072)
They'll engage in longform where they publicize an affair, or discover an illegitimate child who the subject never spoke to. They'll purport to psychoanalyze why the subject has engaged in those behaviors


Do you and I just read different things? I'd find it shocking and worthy of note if I saw this from a "real" publication.

Let me note up front that I think public officials are and should be held to a different standard in regards to this than private citizens.

   74. Joey B. is being stalked by a (Gonfa) loon Posted: January 22, 2014 at 11:26 AM (#4644077)
Reading this piece, you would almost get the impression that the "professional media" have never royally screwed up a story before.
   75. Tripon Posted: January 22, 2014 at 11:28 AM (#4644079)
Around this time, web entrepreneurs with no conscience about accountability and ethics launched their own grubby sites,


YOU WERE CAUGHT BEATING UP YOUR GIRLFRIEND AT LEAST TWICE IN PUBLIC YOU NO GOOD PIECE OF ####. Jay Mariotti arguing about conscience, accountability, and ethics is just laughable.
   76. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: January 22, 2014 at 11:31 AM (#4644083)
Jay Mariotti hasn't done "real journalism" since Reagan was in office. All this bit here is is jealously that Bill Simmons and the internet exist.

Actually, it's perceptive on how the internet has harmed real journalism (*).

His take on the MO's of the Cubs and White Sox organizations was spot-on in virtually every particular, and persuasively expressed, through at least the end of the 1990s.

As a general rule, thinking everything "new" is better is as silly as thinking everything "old" was better. Some new things are superduper awesomely awesome, some new things suck real hard.

(*) No need for scare quotes.
   77. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: January 22, 2014 at 11:33 AM (#4644085)
Do you and I just read different things? I'd find it shocking and worthy of note if I saw this from a "real" publication.


Come on, man. "Frank Sinatra Has a Cold", and the 1000 articles that copied it ever since.
   78. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: January 22, 2014 at 11:40 AM (#4644095)
His take on the MO's of the Cubs and White Sox organizations was spot-on in virtually every particular, and persuasively expressed, through at least the end of the 1990s.


And yet you can't cite a single specific example of a good article that he wrote during that time.

To cite a comparable example from my own local media market, Dejan Kovacevic used to be an excellent beat reporter before he was a shameless hack, and I would have no trouble at all picking out a half-dozen examples of good work from the earlier portion of his career.
   79. Der-K: Hipster doofus Posted: January 22, 2014 at 11:47 AM (#4644104)
Dejan was an excellent beat reporter.
   80. GregD Posted: January 22, 2014 at 11:50 AM (#4644113)
Do you and I just read different things? I'd find it shocking and worthy of note if I saw this from a "real" publication.
There's nothing about the piece that would stand out in Esquire or New York; it is the size and depth of basically every Harper's and New Yorker piece (though obviously not the same topic.) That's a tribute to Grantland and to the piece. Long-form journalism is flourishing, even in print--John Jeremiah Sullivan is basically a celebrity from writing terrific magazine pieces and there are dozens of imitators. It is harder to get permanent staffer positions than it used to be. And long-form journalism about sports seems to be in free fall. So Grantland preserved the sports wing of long-form journalism, to some degree.
   81. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: January 22, 2014 at 11:51 AM (#4644115)
And yet you can't cite a single specific example of a good article that he wrote during that time

No, it means I'm not going to bother responding to know-nothing, Hannityesque comments.
   82. pikepredator Posted: January 22, 2014 at 11:51 AM (#4644117)
This is definitely a fascinating situation. The general criticism of Bill Simmons kind of confuses me, if you hated what he did in the past . . . he's not doing that anymore, thankfully. The time and place for that has passed. If you hate 30 for 30 and Grantland (and I recognize he's only part of those productions), we'll have to agree to disagree. I don't pay attention to any talking head personas, so maybe that's what annoys people.

to the story . . . the initial positive public reaction more or less proves the point that LGBT issues aren't well-understood by the public-at-large. I believe this article - in the long run - will be helpful to the LGBT community in part for the discussion that has ensued. It's not like publishing a newspaper article that is archived on microfiche; the criticisms of the article and lessons learned will be inextricably linked to the point it would be hard to read the article and NOT read Christina's response (among others) - from which many lessons will be learned. I'm positive lots of people have already read the article and the criticisms and had some sort of a-ha moment, including many of the people who initially didn't realize the mistakes.

Trans issues are a relatively new discussion point in America. I left rural VT for music school in the 90's and was welcomed into the LGBT community as a straight guy; it changed my perspective completely. When I emerged into the business world I was shocked at how uninformed many well-educated liberals were, to say nothing of more conservative types. This kind of mistake was going to happen somewhere, sometime. Hopefully the discussion that is coming out of it will help everybody better understand the issues facing the community. Growth is hard. Would this kind of discussion still have happened without some kind of flashpoint like this?
   83. hokieneer Posted: January 22, 2014 at 11:55 AM (#4644125)
I'm deeply conflicted. On the one hand, it's Marriotti, who I despise. But he's slamming Simmons, who I loathe.

What to do?


Without commenting at all on the controversy with the original article, I find Mariottie's condescending tone to be very loathsome. There are very few things in the world I despise more than someone wanting to act as the gate keepers for some establishment that's supported with this concept of accreditation and dues-paying, while casting stones and looking down upon anyone who is unwashed and doing things differently.


Reading this piece, you would almost get the impression that the "professional media" have never royally screwed up a story before.


Exactly. The story here is Simmons/Grantland screwed up. The story is not this sweeping epidemic caused by the fall of the good ol' boys club.
   84. GGC don't think it can get longer than a novella Posted: January 22, 2014 at 11:55 AM (#4644126)
Simmons spawned a lot of other fanboys who could become sportswriters simply by signing onto Word Press and launching blogs.


I was one of these, but not a spawn of Simmons. I was trying to follow the footsteps of more saberista guys, but writing more about history than numbers. I thought that I could blog my way to a modicum of fame or part-time income, but it didn't work out. It was tough building a following a blogging often enough to keep people coming back while trying to balance it with work and family. Younger guys have it easier, so my hat is off to those who are in their 30s and 40s and beyond who can pull it off. I still write, but mostly private stuff at the moment. I still would like to write a book by the time I turn 50, which is sooner than I thing (2018.)
   85. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: January 22, 2014 at 12:00 PM (#4644134)
No, it means I'm not going to bother responding to know-nothing, Hannityesque comments.


(Because there's no reasonable response you can give, since the thing that you said isn't true, or even plausible.)
   86. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: January 22, 2014 at 12:06 PM (#4644144)
(Because there's no reasonable response you can give, since the thing that you said isn't true, or even plausible.)

If you insist, Sean.
   87. robinred Posted: January 22, 2014 at 12:12 PM (#4644151)
Simmons comes up a lot in the NBA Thread, and I happen to have a pretty good friend who is transgender, so I have a few thoughts on this.

First, I think it is 100% clear that Mariotti is intensely jealous of Simmons' enormous success. Since I occasionally bag on people pretty hard for engaging in internet psychoanalysis, it is basically hypocritical of me to make that statement, but I will stick to it. Simmons, given where he is and where he started, has run his career with real entrepreneurial flair. That doesn't mean that you have to like his writing, but he picked up on the changes in media early, got on top of the wave, and has ridden it. It is the same wave that has mostly drowned the Mariottis, and I would assume that some of them are quite bitter about it, and I can see actually see why.

Second, Simmons has used Grantland to put some good writing in a very high-profile outlet. A lot of their stuff is not really to my taste, but many skilled writers, like Jonah Keri and Zach Lowe, get extensive, and well-deserved, exposure there.

Third, I had never really read Simmons until I read The Book of Basketball. Like DK and GGC suggest, if you are interested in the NBA and its history, a lot of good stuff is in the book. But Simmons himself said that the book was "HBO Simmons" and what that meant was he engaged in a fair amount of aging frat-boy sexism, some of which, in my opinion, was pretty offensive, and some of the specific comments that he made were objectionable enough to some that they were discussed by many reviewers.

So...I am not that surprised that Simmons blew it on something like this. Others may disagree with my making that connection, and that's fine. It is not an argument with an objectively correct answer. But when I heard about this, my head sort of went up and down, and I kind of grimly thought, "Yep--that's Simmons." The mentality evinced by the stuff in TBOB indicates to me that he would not be the guy that you would want making a decision in this context, for a variety of reasons. That doesn't mean that Simmons is a "bad guy"--but he was way out of his element here.
   88. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: January 22, 2014 at 12:15 PM (#4644155)
If you insist, Sean.


You might as well have said that he helped develop the stealth bomber.
   89. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: January 22, 2014 at 12:17 PM (#4644158)
So...I am not that surprised that Simmons blew it on something like this. Others may disagree with my making that connection, and that's fine. It is not an argument with an objectively correct answer. But when I heard about this, my head sort of went up and down, and I kind of grimly thought, "Yep--that's Simmons." The mentality evinced by the stuff in TBOB indicates to me that he would not be the guy that you would want making a decision in this context, for a variety of reasons. That doesn't mean that Simmons is a "bad guy"--but he was way out of his element here.

Concur with everything you wrote.

It was inevitable that Simmons was going to blow it at some point, because he's not qualified to be an editor. People can laugh and scoff at the notion of a serious and qualified "editor" (*) all they want, and so be it.

(*) And the general concept of a mature and experienced gatekeeper to mediate between writer and masses.
   90. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: January 22, 2014 at 12:19 PM (#4644159)
You might as well have said that he helped develop the stealth bomber.

Last word's yours, Sean.
   91. GGC don't think it can get longer than a novella Posted: January 22, 2014 at 12:23 PM (#4644165)
My brief review of B of B from four years ago. It links to a more substantial Kevin Pelton review.
   92. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: January 22, 2014 at 12:27 PM (#4644169)
Last word's yours, Sean.


I don't really get why an inveterate troll like you would cut the line the minute a fish shows an interest in your bait. But if you want to hang your head and walk away, go for it.
   93. pikepredator Posted: January 22, 2014 at 12:28 PM (#4644172)
Not only was Simmons out of his element, but the whole crew. I think it's very telling that he apparently had many people review it, and as far as I know nobody suggested "hey, do we know anybody in the community?" Does anybody know more about that detail?

That is the one fact that blows me away and I can only come up with two conclusions. Either nobody in the whole process thought of it (ignorance but not apathy or malice), or they did but decided not too. If it's the former, it shows how much needs to be learned. If it turns out having Christina read it was suggested but poo-pooh'ed as unnecessary, that's IMO a worse oversight than running the article in the first place. But I really think - based on my perceptions of the sportsjock culture as an outsider on various sports teams in high school and college - it never crossed anybody's mind. I saw a lot of ignorance get misinterpreted as meanness during those times, and so I am inclined to think that's happening here.


   94. Lassus Posted: January 22, 2014 at 12:31 PM (#4644174)
It was inevitable that Simmons was going to blow it at some point, because he's not qualified to be an editor. People can laugh and scoff at the notion of a serious and qualified "editor" (*) all they want, and so be it.

No one is laughing and scoffing at the notion of a serious and qualified editor. They are laughing and scoffing at the idea that Mariotti would be such an editor or that he's qualified - based on his last two decades - to identify the need for one ahead of time.


I agree with #93 completely.
   95. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: January 22, 2014 at 12:32 PM (#4644175)
No one is laughing and scoffing at the notion of a serious and qualified editor. They are laughing and scoffing at the idea that Mariotti would be such an editor or that he's qualified - based on his last two decades - to identify the need for one.

People around here pretty much laugh and scoff at everything a pre-Internet sportswriter says about post-Internet "journalism," (*) so that's not particularly shocking.

(*) Zzzzzzzzzzzzz.
   96. if nature called, ladodger34 would listen Posted: January 22, 2014 at 12:33 PM (#4644176)
In my world, Simmons doesn’t write well, doesn’t do TV well and really doesn’t do much of anything but schmooze the right people. At ESPN, any guy off the street — myself included, I suppose — could do a few shows and become a star, based simply on the network’s massive clout and reach. But at some point, there has to be a redeeming value to a personality. And don’t tell me about page views, unique visitors and Twitter followers — the biggest ongoing scam in the web media is how people buy and fabricate numbers, in some cases by the hundreds of thousands. Ignore numbers.


This quote is the problem with Jay's post. He didn't really criticize the process involved with the vettting of the Grantland piece. Jay wrote a hit piece aimed towards Simmons because he is pissed that a guy like Simmons that didn't pay his dues is a cross-platform star at ESPN while Jay is stuck writing blog pieces.
   97. Der-K: Hipster doofus Posted: January 22, 2014 at 12:34 PM (#4644177)
87 - good post, robinred.
I also like both GGC and Pelton's (also a primate) descriptions of the BoB (post 91).
   98. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: January 22, 2014 at 12:39 PM (#4644185)
People around here pretty much laugh and scoff at everything a pre-Internet sportswriter says about post-Internet "journalism," (*) so that's not particularly shocking.


That depends on the sportswriter in question. If someone like Thomas Boswell or Hal McCoy, i.e. someone with actual skill and insight, wanted to write a piece on the subject, I'd read it with interest. But Mariotti's a shameless no-talent hack and always has been, so unless you subscribe to the set-a-thief-to-catch-a-thief strategy for rooting out lazy journalism and shitty writing, he doesn't have anything worthwhile to offer on the subject.
   99. Lassus Posted: January 22, 2014 at 12:40 PM (#4644187)
People around here pretty much laugh and scoff at everything a pre-Internet sportswriter says about post-Internet "journalism," (*) so that's not particularly shocking. (*) Zzzzzzzzzzzzz.

This is so non-responsive to what I wrote that there isn't any reason for you to have written it other than to be pleased with yourself for writing it.
   100. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: January 22, 2014 at 12:41 PM (#4644189)
This quote is the problem with Jay's post.

Let's break it down:

In my world, Simmons doesn’t write well, doesn’t do TV well and really doesn’t do much of anything but schmooze the right people.

Simmons writes ok -- not as well as Mariotti -- and, in fact, does TV very poorly. Mariotti understates how poorly. I don't know anything about the schmoozing, but typically show business-y jobs like Simmons's require schmoozing.

At ESPN, any guy off the street — myself included, I suppose — could do a few shows and become a star, based simply on the network’s massive clout and reach.

Pretty clearly true, given the long list of doofs ESPN markets as "stars." Mariotti himself was on ESPN for several years.

But at some point, there has to be a redeeming value to a personality.

For the personality to have any substance, clearly true.

And don’t tell me about page views, unique visitors and Twitter followers — the biggest ongoing scam in the web media is how people buy and fabricate numbers, in some cases by the hundreds of thousands. Ignore numbers.

No idea whether this is true, but Simmons is pretty clearly popular among sports bros, and there are a lot of sports bros out there.





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