In the wake of Shaquille O’Neal’s suggestion Dwight Howard had shunned the bright lights of Hollywood in favor of the sleepy backwater known as Houston, TX (the 4th largest city in the U.S., by the way) because he couldn’t handle the pressure, dozens readers patiently waited for Sports On Earth’s Will Leitch (above, left) to weigh in on the pros and cons of playing in New York City. Along the way, Mattoon, IL native Leitch lists Gotham’s pluses (endorsement opportunities, late night grilled cheese sandwiches) and minuses (it’s expensive, lack of privacy, etc.) While Leitch failed to cite NYC’s cultural diversity in the former category (unsurprisingly), he’s fairly sure “The Media” is the biggest argument against playing in the Big Apple (“this would be the dealbreaker for me”).
This is the media capital of the country, which means that no matter how much you succeed, no matter how much joy you provide, everyone’s going to pounce on you for no reason, just because they can. I mean, they called Derek Jeter “Derek Eater” and “Captain Munch.” Does that sound like a place where you want to spend your time? If you have one bad game in New York, newspaper back pages call you a choker, or a fraud, or a failure, and it sits on stands all day, with people just staring at your picture next to some snappy pun about your last name. Oh, and if you have any personal issues — that is to say, you are like every other person on the planet — nothing is off-limits. So I hope you keep a perfectly clean sheet.
You’re so much better off playing for Detroit, where there are, like, three total reporters, or St. Louis, where two star players can be detained for soliciting prostitutes and no one notices, remembers or cares. Take the pressure off. Go where no one is watching. Go where you can be left alone.
Don’t play in New York City, free agent athletes of the world. It’s just not worth it. It’s the best city in the world. But not for you.
If there is a single media-related reason why professional athletes have particular reason to look over the shoulders, it’s not the plethora of beat reporters or the fact NYC has 3 daily newspapers (4 if you count the James Dolan-owned Newsday). It’s the website Leitch founded. Incredibly, Deadspin managed to put the screws to public figures including but not limited to Ben Roethlisberger, Josh Hamilton, Sean Salisbury, Manti T’eo, Matt Leinart, Chris Berman and Chris Mihlfeld. And this is in spite of none of the above WORKING IN NEW YORK CITY.
Sports On Earth’s Will Leitch (above, left) brags he’s visited Flushing to watch baseball some 40 times in the last 8 years, which seems like a relatively small number when you consider he’s been employed during some of that stretch to write about New York sports. As opposed to say, his beloved St. Louis Cardinals, whose midweek series at Citi Field afforded the Deadspin founder an opportunity to see just how sad, invisible or apathetic (“I have never seen Mets fans more dispirited than they were last night”) the once proud Amazins fan base has become.
All spirit is gone. I wear my Cardinals gear to these games, and I’ve been booed and heckled and mocked, almost always with (reasonable) good cheer. But nobody even bothered last night. Citi Field was a collective, three-hour shrug. My friend who went to the game with me, who knows and cares about the Mets as well and as much as anyone could possibly care to, put it well: “Why waste a nice evening dwelling on things nobody seems able to change?”
Ever since Adam Wainwright threw that impossible curveball by an apparently immobile Carlos Beltran — two men likely to be Cardinals All-Stars at Citi Field this July, which is just mean — Mets fans have been kicked in the face by their team in every conceivable fashion. 2007 brought the historic collapse. 2008 brought the most depressing final game for a home stadium imaginable. (The New York Times called it “immersed in gloom,” which is not the Mets’ current marketing slogan, but probably should be.) 2009 was an injury-filled disaster; 2010 brought Jason Bay and mass firings; 2011, 2012 and 2013 have been more traditional lousy teams, with occasional breaks to say goodbye to the team’s most popular players. You couldn’t be meaner to your fanbase if you took time out between innings to personally insult every paying customer over the loudspeaker. (“Tom, in Section 128, Row 16? Yeah, you. You’re fat and you’re stupid. Now batting, Jordany Valdespin.”)
Being a Mets fan has always contained an inherent sense of fatalism and self-loathing for liking such a painful franchise; the torture the Mets regularly provide is a feature, not a bug. But in my 13-plus years here, I’ve never seen it like this. It’s not even pain anymore: It’s just numb, blank stares. Many Mets fans in my section, after Allen Craig’s three-run homer in the fifth inning, had their eyes glaze over, as if they were finding a place in their mind to escape. They appeared to be fantasizing about a world other than this one, a place far, far away.
Given that Leitch failed to interview any of the paying customers, there’s every chance his extra-sensory perception is slightly off. Perhaps some of those in attendance were deep in thought, mulling over recent changes to syphilis statistics in major US cities. Or maybe they were saying a silent prayer, thanking the Wilpons for employing a manager who while most assuredly a
barely competent lame duck, has never shamed his franchise with this sort of behavior.
How are any of us to know for sure what they were thinking? “Murder-suicide” comes to mind instantly, but I don’t wanna say anything that would prevent Will from wearing his Willie McGee jersey to many more public gatherings.
Deadspin celebrates its 8th anniversary later this year, an occasion that caused Adweek’s Charlie Warzel to collect memories from the site’s editors and publisher about their major journalistic achievements in the pre-Manti T’eo era. Said high water marks are specified as a jpg of a drunk Kyle Orton, a jpg of a drunk Josh Hamilton and a jpg of Brett Favre’s cock —- apparently causing multiple Sean Salisbury meltdowns didn’t meet Warzel’s standards! Anyhow, if you’re amongst those who thought Deadspin founder Will Leitch (above, left) milked the site’s bro-tarded comments section for all it was worth, THINK AGAIN. He’s not that kind of guy.
Leitch: I didn’t want comments at all. This was my little play land. I was having too much fun and comments added a new element. I didn’t know or even care if people were reading Deadspin at the time. I was just enjoying sitting in my little room. I had stopped looking at traffic. I said, “Just tell me at the end of each month if I don’t get my traffic goals. Just give me one warning and if I screw up again you can fire me.” I’m still like that now and I just don’t want to know the numbers. Chasing the traffic demon is the end of it all. I think it’s made everything [online] stupid.
Drew Magary: He’d seen how bad comments were on other sites. Most commenters on Yahoo and ESPN are morons writing things that are breathtakingly stupid. He probably thought, “Okay, I’ll write something smart, then commenters will call the President Hitler and this will suck.”
There was one point early on where Will would pull out comments of mine and stick them in a post and when he did that I’d be like, “Oh my God! Leitch posted the comment! I don’t feel so alone anymore! I’m so happy!” Five of us commenters eventually started a site called Kissing Suzy Kolber and Will championed our cause early. Every time he’d email me I’d get excited and think, “Wow a big media person likes our stuff.”
Leitch: I got over the comments issue quick because Deadspin commenters ended up being so awesome. It ended up that I worked the top part of the site and they worked the bottom. I never really read comments then, though I didn’t have any problems with them. After a while, I realized “Oh, its actually really funny!” By the time it had become a community though I was too busy writing posts. The Deadspin community formed entirely outside of my doing. I didn’t foster it. Not that I didn’t want it, but I just had no time to do it.
It’s entirely appropriate that KSK’s Margery is a character witness ; after all, it was long established that links at Deadspin during Leitch’s era were largely reduced to a small circle (jerk) of acolytes. But compare and contrast Leitch’s claim, “the Deadspin community formed entirely outside” with a September 2006 statement from the humble editor promising a “rather stingy” approvals process. How do you know when the Man From Mattoon isn’t totally full of shit? I was gonna write, “his lips aren’t moving”, but that doesn’t cover typing.
Given former Deadspin editor Will Leitch’s status as one of the bigger, self-professed Cardinals fans residing in the media capital of New York City, it’s hardly a surprise to learn (via his latest column for Sports On Earth) that he’s got a soft spot for Fox’s Joe Buck. “I’ve always been a bit baffled as to why he’s so unpopular,” muses the least funny public figure who isn’t a former cast member of “The State”. “I find Buck’s dryness a lot funnier than almost any other sports personality who tries to be humorous,” protests Leitch, who credits the near-universal public dislike for Buck on the latter’s omnipresence.
Fact is, Buck has been calling every NFC Championship Game, a third of the Super Bowls and every World Series for almost 16 years now. (His first World Series was in 1996; his first Super Bowl was in 2005.) Buck has been the soundtrack to an unusually high percentage of sports’ most memorable moments during a time when social media has exploded and fans have more of a voice to complain and vent than ever before. I guarantee you that had Twitter and blogs existed when Vin Scully was doing national games, or Bob Costas and Tony Kubek did the Game of the Week, or Howard Cosell was doing “Monday Night Football,” they would have thought everyone hated them, too. (Can you imagine Twitter with Cosell? Lord.)
Annoying fans is one of the primary job descriptions of a broadcaster. More fans see and hear Joe Buck than any other broadcaster in the country. Therefore, he annoys more of them. He’s doing his job.
If an extended absence for Buck is what it takes for the 2nd-generation broadcaster to finally earn some respect, by all means, let him take the World Series off. Failing that surprise development, it’s a tad desperate for Leitch to suggest Buck’s unpopularity is directly tied to his overexposure. Marv Albert — who at one time, achieved national laughingstock status for his work outside the broadcast booth — has never been the target of fan animus the way Buck has been. Fair credit to Leitch for acknowledging Buck’s hysterical overreaction to Randy Moss fake-mooning fans at Lambeau, but there’s not a word about the Budweiser “Leon” commercials, HBO’s abortive “Joe Buck Live”, the bizarre lipgloss fixation or Buck’s association with a broadcaster who inspires even more hatred (ie. Tim McCarver).
Nope, Will Leitch would like you to believe Joe Buck is picked on because angry nu-media creeps resent someone who is very successful. Essentially the same rationale Leitch tried to apply to his own experience being at the receiving end of constant criticism. The assignments are a bit more glamorous, the guaranteed pay, hopefully better, but Leitch is the same disingenuous ladder-climber he was in the late Naughts.
Boston Globe columnist Bob Ryan pulled the plug on his regular contributions to the paper yesterday after 44 years with a classy sayonara that cited Jackie MacMullan never having sacrificed, “a shred of femininity.” That weird portion aside, Ryan’s wit and insight will be missed by those of us who’ve actually read his work over the years rather than fixated on his more contemporary appearances on ESPN alongside the likes of Tony Kornheiser or Screamin’ Jay Mariotti. And with that in mind, let’s flash back to December 6, 2005, when Deadspin’s Will Leitch (“Why Your Hometown Columnist Sucks : Bob Ryan”) castigated the writer for “becoming what he once despised — a sports celebrity.”
Ryan’s sins go far beyond a single foot-in-mouth moment on local radio, or the belief that the home team was doomed. He is emblematic of the brand of journalist who prize pancake makeup over printer’s ink. He has that disease known as Stagelight Palsy, in which shrieking inanities on television trumps any attempt at journalistic credibility. How do you know if your hometown columnist has this disease? Symptoms include short, choppy one-sentence paragraphs. Inattention to detail. Wild assertions made simply to draw attention. And, in this case, some serious, big-league, sloppy hometown ass-smooching.
Ryan is old enough to know better. Indeed, he helped pioneer this print-journalist-turned-TV-asshole pandemic. There is a special place reserved for Bob Ryan — perhaps in the final scene of Return of the Jedi, as a hologram, right between old Obi-wan and Yoda, if he ultimately finds redemption. Until then, we must endure his evil. Be strong.
Of course, in the nearly 7 years since the above premature burial, Leitch has become something of sports celebrity himself, one whose own appearances on radio, television and advertisements for Taco Bell haven’t exactly been covered in glory. Back in 2005, I suggested that Ryan, “has forgotten more about sports than Leitch will ever know.” Of course, with his references to Ryan having been scarred by “molten lava”, Leitch has probably forgotten more than the rest of us will ever know about taking sickening cheap shots at older writers he’s deemed no longer useful to his career trajectory.
I’ve met (Darren) Rovell a few times, and I find him to be a generally affable, professional, intelligent human being. He has a certain well-hello-people-who-are-not-me-but-are-obviously-just-here-to-see-me vibe to him, but I just chalk that up to an occupational hazard of appearing on television regularly. And all told, the guy has always done good work (in addition to the Nike press releases and Fathead sales updates, of course); he’s a legit reporter. But something about Twitter has caused him to lose his goddamned mind. He’s asking people to send him pictures of their lunch, showing up in public with his Twitter handle on his back and, perhaps most infamously, installing himself as a sort of Twitter cop, with his rules of Twitter and his scoldings of those who disobey his laws. I’m fairly certain Rovell considers a moment he’s not on Twitter to be a wasted moment.
This, of course, has been nothing but rewarding for Rovell: It just got him his own TV show. It might be just that, as frustrating as he is (and I honestly can’t follow him), he’s just better at it than the rest of us are. He has simply transplanted his life and personality onto Twitter in a more efficient way than anyone else.
– William F. Leitch, Deadspin, December 22, 2012
Yes, well, who knows? Perhaps someday Rovell will have one of those grand epiphanies — y’know, like the sort Screech experienced when he left Deadspin because (in his words), “I was starting to worry I was becoming more a blog than a person.” In the meantime, taking the latter to task for insubstantial tweets is kind of like expressing disappointment in Korn’s foray into dubstep. Much as there’s something slightly screwy about taking to the internet to declare Darren Rovell has been too zealous in his embrace of social media. I’m not so sure an unchecked boner for blogging and tweeting is contributing to an (even) dumber brand of discourse. Or to paraphrase the gun lobby, “Twitter doesn’t bore people to death. You do.”
A day after Deadspin published further allegations of sexual harassment-via-text on the part of the suddenly retired Brett Favre, the site’s editor, A.J. Daulerio, was profiled by GQ’s Gabriel Sherman. There’s a number of revelations in “The Worldwide Leader In Dong Shots” ranging from Daulerio’s base salary ($100K, not counting bonuses for famous boners), Deadspin’s dramatic traffic boost under Daulerio’s stewardship, his dogged attempts to give the disgraced Jay Mariotti a chance to tell his side of the story, receiving a rousing endorsement from one-time sports blogophobe H.G. “Buzz” Bissinger (“can’t beat ‘em join ‘em..Deadspin has more power in its toe nail shavings than every newspaper combined”), but alas, there’s something less than a vote of confidence from the site’s founder.
Even Will Leitch has gotten a little queasy. At first, Leitch talked with Daulerio constantly about the site, hashing out ideas and offering advice. But in July 2009, when Daulerio posted a link to the Erin Andrews stalker video, Leitch thought he went too far. They remain close but no longer talk about Deadspin. Leitch, now a writer for New York magazine, told me he wouldn’t have published the Favre photos: “I never wanted people to feel like they needed to take a shower.”
I’m no expert, but I’d always read that when the Puritans came to North America, they’d settled in New England, not Mattoon, IL. That Leitch (above, left) finds photographs of Brett Favre’s penis distasteful is not a big surprise — he’s already shown a squeamish side when it comes to frank discussions of sexuality. But just to recap the sterling tenure of Deadspin’s cuddlier editor in chief, Leitch’s achievements included (but weren’t limited to) the smearing of Albert Pujols’ strength and conditioning coach, questioning the intellectual capacity of prominent black Americans, and the gratuitous screengrab of Tony Dungy’s son’s MySpace page shortly after the troubled teen committed suicide. If the Favre story made Will feel dirty, he’s got a very short memory — it was every bit as legit a workplace harassment story as one Leitch jumped on.
I tweet too much and post too little to do what GC is doing, but, as promised: From the Twitter of one @williamfleitch.
Playoff hockey is unbearably intense. So much so that it’s almost not enjoyable. Almost.
Least disappointing Flyers playoff loss of my adult life, incidentally. Bad as Game 5 was, and weird as this one ended, not stealing Game 1 or Game 2 is when the series really got away from them.
It’s been a rough spring for Jose Reyes. First, the Mets SS had to contend with the screwy suggestion from his own manager that he’d be better off hitting 3rd rather than leading off. Shortly after, Reyes learned he’d be on the shelf for perhaps as long as two months due to a previously undiagnosed thyroid condition. Now, after amidst a flurry of speculation regarding his fitness, Reyes finds his fortitude being questioned by former Men’s Health scribe Will Leitch (above) via New York Magazine’s The Sports Section :
You will be relieved to know that Jose Reyes did not dissolve yesterday in a poof of smoke after being hit by a pitch. In fact, people were so enthused by his hitting yesterday that today he’s going to run the bases. Jose Reyes is such a delicate flower that we are complimenting him for basic human functions, like the morose neighbor boy you’re just happy to see out of the house in the sun once in a while.
It remains a mystery why New York Mag feels compelled to employ an avowed Cards fan to come up with the sort of thing that wouldn’t get past “Mike’d Up”‘s call screener on the grounds of redundancy. Would a St. Louis glossy allow a lifelong Mets fan to routinely skewer the Redbirds’ boozed-up skipper or Bunyanesque fraud of a first base coach? Not if they wanted anyone to take them seriously.
Ailing film critic Roger Ebert (shown above, right, with Russ Myer) appeared on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” yesterday, an occasion that inspired only slightly more emotion than the publication of Will Leitch’s “My Roger Ebert Story” at Deadspin. Our Man From Mattoon, as it turns out, was mentored by Ebert during the former’s tenure at the Daily Illini. Later, after arriving in New York and being encouraged to cultivate, uh, his snarky side, Leitch composed a hatchet job for Ironminds entitled “I Am Sick Of Roger Ebert’s Fat Face”. Though Leitch openly regrets the ill-advised piece (and Ebert has graciously forgiven him), the timing of the Deadspin entry is more than a little opportunistic. It’s entirely noble to call attention to Ebert’s work or to his habit of assisting young writers. It’s the height of narcissism, however, to flip the switch from Ebert’s writing or his courageous struggle with cancer to yet another clumsy bit of Leitch’s introspection.
The New York Times’ David Carr, not nearly as sickened as I, wrote, “who among us hasn’t fired the rocket, experiencing the atavistic glee of aiming something horrible at what we thought was some big, lumbering gasbag, and then come to realize that whatever the shortcomings of our target, we have just proved we are far more despicable?” That’s a fair enough question to ask, but not all of us would fire said missile at a target who’d gone out of his way to be a pal. And not all of us would use the occasion of said target’s major TV appearance to call attention to ourselves. And if you’re still wondering what would possibly provoke Leitch to have lashed out at a man he clearly considered to be something of a hero (watch your back, Rick Ankiel!), here’s his explanation.
The Web was beginning to emerge, and we young turks, swept in during the dot-com boom, all thought we were punk rock gods, ready to kill our idols. Ebert began to feel like the old guard: In the wake of Siskel’s death, he had become a ubiquitous presence on television, at the expense of his writing, I felt. In 2000, when I’d moved to New York and, like everybody else, was being paid far too much just to be told I was part of the next “MTV Generation” of Internet stars, I thought I knew everything. You had to burn down the past. These were the days of We Live in Public, of Pets.com, of bringing your dog in the office, of Webvan, of espnet.sportszone.com. We all thought we were hot shit.
I’m not sure Leitch realizes the absurdity of the claim “we all thought we were punk rock gods, ready to kill our idols.” You can rest assured Sonic Youth didn’t actually consider Robert Christgau to be an idol, nor were they in his debt in 1983. But it’s a revealing paragraph just the same, and one that rings just as hollow as Alex Rodriguez’ talk of a loosey-goosey clubhouse climate. Leitch puts his rotten behavior into the context of the internet boom (nice work not citing Suck.com, Will) but maybe the real gist of it is something much more simple. I’ve called him “ethically challenged” in this space previously, but never before had the benefit of this intensely unpleasant social climber serving up the evidence himself on a silver platter.
Pedro Martinez all but lobbying for a new Mets contract is a slightly depressing proposition ; it’s unlikely the talismanic pitcher will return to Flushing, his dominant performances in ’05 and the first half of ’06 being a very distant memory compared to the past couple of injury plagued campaigns. “Four years wasn™t too much to give Pedro. Two, it seems, was pushing it” scolds NY Magazine’s self-proclaimed lifelong Cardinals fans Will Leitch.
“Conventional wisdom still says that the trade was crucial because it œlegitimized the Mets, making the team seem more serious and attractive to free agents. Here™s a more logical theory: The reason free agents came to Shea was because the Mets offered more money than anybody else. Every big-timer the Mets scooped up ” Carlos Beltran (2005), Billy Wagner and Carlos Delgado (2006), Johan Santana and Luis Castillo (2008) ” were showered with cash. 2007, when they brought in no free agents, was the year they were outbid for Daisuke Matsuzaka and Barry Zito.
And about the wisdom of all these signings: Pedro™s early œsuccess fooled the Mets into thinking big-name players were all it took to become champions. (Or become the Yankees ” whatever.) Thus: Beltran, solid; Wagner, destroyed by injuries; Delgado, initially effective and then a mess until the second half of last season; Santana, outstanding ” for now, just like Pedro in his first season ” and with five more years to go; and Castillo, horrific, and with three more years to go. The team spent a ton of money with no World Series to show for it. Once those contracts end, odds are that the Mets will breathe the same sighs of relief that they are now with Pedro leaving.
Not for the first time, Leitch’s take on the New York sporting scene seems utterly confused. The “trade” Will refers to was in fact, Martinez signing with the Mets as a free agent after fulfilling his contractual obligations to Boston. Of the “big-timers the Mets scooped up”, Johan Santana and Luis Castillo were each acquired via trades. And while Omar Minaya failed to land Barry Zito….are we to believe that was a bad thing?
Leitch is correct in stating there’s no worthwhile silverware in the Wilpon trophy cabinet to show for all their largesse, but signing Martinez was a viable way to show Beltran (just slightly better than “solid” during his Mets tenure, assuming you’ve actually seen him play), if not a depressed fanbase, the club was serious about contending (at least according to New York Magazine). There’s also the matter of the money-spinning SNY and the construction of Citi Field, neither of which might’ve come to fruition without Pedro’s arrival, but I’m willing to let that slide. Will’s done some amazing things in his time, but making Omar Minaya seem like a sympathetic figure in November of 2009 has to be on the top of the pile.
As part of New York Magazine’s 40th Anniversary, a number of NYC sports-thinker types of considerable repute were asked to select their Top Ten New York Athletes of the past four decades. Along with expert testimony from the likes of Mike Lupica and Christopher Russo, another Big Apple fixture, former Deadspin editor Will Leitch — when you think of Gotham, you think of Will — contributed the following :
1. Reggie Jackson
In his first game back in the Bronx after he signed with the Angels, Yankee Stadium chanted his name. They wouldn™t even do that for Jeter.
Really? If Darryl Strawberry, Patrick Ewing and Mark Messier all received standing ovations the first time they returned to New York in a different uniform, why is it so hard to believe a 4 time World Champ like Jeter wouldn’t receive similar treatment?
2. Lawrence Taylor
Dominating, gruesome, monstrous, awesome, and would have been even better if he weren™t high so often. That he was makes him even more of a terrifying, otherworldly force of nightmares.
We’ve already established that Will has some issues with black people, but with all due respect to L.T.’s defensive prowess, it’s kinda fucked up to describe him as “gruesome, monstrous” without acknowledging he might’ve been pretty sharp, too. Did Mark Gastineau have the presence of mind to send hookers to opponents’ hotel rooms?
7. Dwight Gooden
Hard to separate him from Darryl Strawberry; they were the only two people who could make you forget anyone played baseball in the Bronx.
Actually, Will, Straw and Dr. K were very easy to separate. For instance, one played right field and hit monstrous (whoops) home runs, the other was the most exciting young pitcher since Mark Fidyrch or Fernando Valenzuela. “The only two people who could make you forget anyone played baseball in the Bronx?” For the first time, someone has the guts to claim Fritz Peterson’s star power overshadowed Tom Seaver.
When he entered Studio 54, the place actually went quiet with awe.
The same could be said of Lillian Carter. When she wasn’t wearing panties, anyway. But I’ve got to stand up for Leitch’s credibility on this one. He’s not old enough to have attended the original Studio 54, and while I’m not either, I’m certain a past-his-prime Pele being recognized in a nightclub is a far greater testament to his iconic status than any of his accomplishments on the soccer pitch. Had I been asked to compile such a top ten, Anthony Mason would’ve ranked high simply because someone told me he tipped well at the China Club.
(Cronenberg : came to WEEI.com for the Whiner Line samples, stayed for the slurs on his homeland)
A : They don’t seem to register on the somewhat faulty cultural radar of former Deadspin editor Will Leitch, who in lauding Jason Bay for WEEI.com insists the unheralded (?) Red Sox left-fielder, “is such a perfect fit with Canada that if he hadn™t been born there, I™d insist he emigrate.”
Canada is the country we always forget about. It sits up there, freaking huge, but really doesn™t register much. The most famous Canadians are all famous because of America. (I doubt Michael J. Fox would have become a hero had Family Ties aired on the CBC.) Canada is modest, quiet, and strangely effective in terms of government™s assistance to its citizens; a guy who breaks his arm in Canada is gonna have a helluva lot easier time than I will, if I break my arm. (He will also cry less.) Canada does great things. But no one really notices.
Jason Bay has been one of baseball™s best players for five years now, but he has done so for a team that is perpetually in last place, in a city with a beautiful stadium but no actual fans. For a guy who once had Eddie Vedder encouraging fans to vote him into the All-Star Game, the odds that you ever gave Jason Bay much thought before he was traded here are minimal. And now, here he is, a linchpin of a team I still think is the favorite to win the World Series this year.
How will he do under the klieg lights of October? Canada™s record is spotty. The biggest Summer Olympics moment they™ve ever had involved Ben Johnson. Hardly anyone watches the NHL anymore. Right now the country™s legislature is in full turmoil. They didn™t make it out of the first round of the World Baseball Classic, despite Bay and Stubby Clapp. Heck, Sarah Palin has even stole their accent.
CSTB’s vast Canadian readership is more than capable of defending herself. I mean, themselves. But suffice to say the next time our Will is paired with another excitable sort for a television chat, I’d like the dance partner to be Don Cherry rather than Buzz Bissinger.
(The cat, four weeks ago, showing little interest in the Phillies game)
The Will Leitch Farewell Tour of Deadspin continued today with a longish post attempting to put my somewhat over the top attempts at antagonizing Will into some greater perspective.
Though admitting he once considered CSTB, “one of our favorites, though, and the one that seemed to have the best idea of how to run a general interest sports site” (keep in mind this was 2003, folks), Leitch also includes the caveat, “most of it was just long cutting-and-pastings of AP stories with a one-sentence ‘comment’ on the end.” So in other words, a mere parasite like me oughta have greater respect for someone who adds a two-sentence ‘comment’ to the end of stories cut and pasted from ESPN.com.
At the risk of C&P’ing far too much of Leitch’s self-described plucky midwesterisms, I’ll summarize the post in question. Outta the blue, mild-mannered Man From Mattoon was bulldozed by an invisible grouch who proceeded to publish his cell phone number and encouraged the homeless to use his fiancee’s portrait for target practice. Though these missives were distasteful and oh-so-unprovoked, they ultimately help Young Will to buck up, grow-a-pair…and eventually blossom into the fragile butterfly we all saw torn to fucking shreds on HBO.
You’re welcome, Will. Anytime. But the following points need to be made :
1) The CSTB category “Will Leitch Sucks” did not appear “within 25 minutes” of Deadspin’s public launch. Said category was created weeks after the fact, though for the purposes of proper indexing, old posts relevant to the matter at handed were edited to include the category.
2) It is true I posted Will’s phone number, but I only did so after some moron at CBS Sportsline sent a press release that included it. There’s a breach in Leitch’s personal security and he wants to blame the whistleblower?
3) re : the bit about encouraging the homeless to get busy with pics of Will’s ex. Not cool (dude). Hardly my proudest moment — especially the part where I had to pay the homeless to do it. This was a reprehensible act and I don’t think I will ever fully live down the way I exploited…the nation’s less fortunate!
(seriously folks, did it ever occur to Will or his
dipshit loyal readers that constantly mocking him was not entirely different from targeting, say, Stephen A. Smith or Chris Berman, neither of whom, to my knowledge, have ever met Will Leitch or done anything to personally hurt him? Or that this long-running schtick is someone’s idea of humor? That if Will were to disappear I’d have to go back to making fun of Mushnick’s beard everyday?)
4) “It can be difficult for the blog uninitiated ” which we most definitely were ” when they are being hammered online, but, thanks to CSTB, we grew used to it pretty quick. Heck, no one was gonna say anything worse than what he was saying.”
Not until recently, no.
5) The revisionist history is all well and good for lazy types who never bothered to notice how the majority of anti-Leitch posts at CSTB were not in fact, sneak attacks mounted as part of some bloggy traffic war, but directly referenced Deadspin’s real content and totally legit questions about such.
6) Good luck at New York, Will. Hopefully, the magazine won’t “focus too much on New York City for our tastes” and you’ll last more then two days at your new gig before someone compares you to Jm J. Bullock.
(Cardinals Mgr Tony La Russa, pictured, not worried about falling attendance. Says La Russa: “Maybe you oughta worry about it, my friend.”)
It’s no mystery why to this Cub fan, but Cardinal management is just waking up to falling ’2008 ‘Tard attendance. As Sports Illustrated’s direct access to the AP wire reveals:
“We’ve still sold 3 million tickets, haven’t we?” La Russa said. “The fans are supporting us.”
The team had 161 sellouts the first two seasons at the new park, missing one game in 2006 due to a rainout with the Giants that was not made up, and also sold out the last three games of the final year at old Busch Stadium in 2005.
Wednesday’s attendance was about 4,000 shy of the stadium capacity of 43,975.
The end of the streak coincides with reduced expectations for the Cardinals, who have made the postseason seven of the last nine years. Longtime stars Jim Edmonds, Scott Rolen and David Eckstein have departed since the end of last season and top pitchers Chris Carpenter and Mark Mulder began the year on the 15-day disabled list while recovering from surgery.
General manager John Mozeliak said poor weather and a depressed economy also have something to do with it.
(aftermath of a prior generation’s Congressional hearing on PED use in athletics)
Asked by SI.com’s Richard Dietsch “why has Deadspin gained cultural currency?”, the ever-humble Will Leitch replies, “I don’t think it is because of my brilliance. I think I was just fortunate enough to have gotten there first.” And while I’m busying penning Leitch a thank-you note for inventing the internet, blogging and blogging about sports, you might enjoy the following excerpts from Dietsch’s interview.
SI.com: Do you consider yourself a journalist?
Leitch:I consider what I do on Deadspin to be based in the foundations of journalism, yes, based on the foundations of journalism that I have been trained and that I certainly use when I write for GQ, The New York Times and so on. Certainly, I think the language can be a little looser on the web, but I am held to the same standards and accuracy everyone else is. If I am wrong, and if I am constantly throwing stuff up on the site that is wrong, trust me, people are more than happy to let me know how wrong I am. And if I do that consistently they will stop coming to the site. That is the key thing. If I have no credibility, people will stop coming to the site. People are not stupid. And, frankly, with the other places I write for, if I had a reputation for using very lax journalistic principles, I doubt some of these places would want me to work for them.
SI.com: Would you print a photo of a beheaded athlete?
Leitch: To be honest, it depends on the circumstances. I suppose if I found an athlete from 30 years ago, uh, gross, no. I think that would be a question SI.com would have as well. And there would be discretion where I would say, after the jump, if what you really want to do is look, here it is.
SI.com: If Sports Illustrated had photos of Will Leitch drunk, should we post that on SI.com?
Leitch: Well, I don’t know if that would sell that much on your site. But it would be hypocritical of me to be upset about that, and they are already on the Web anyway. It’s not hard to find. Certainly, I’m not sure you would find much success posting them, but you have every right to that.
Indeed, there’s not much cultural currency to be gained in running tipsy party snapshots of Will. Photos of him perpetuating ugly ethnic stereotypes, however, are pure traffic gold, as evidenced from CSTB’s nearly 3 figures in advertising revenue earned last month.
I’m sure you’ll agree it totally sucks when jealous bloggers routinely mock successful, multi-media personalities who’ve worked so hard to attain fame and fortune. But enough about the cruel treatment afforded to Stephen A. Smith, let’s instead check out someone else’s take on Will Leitch.
“God Save The Fan” author Leitch, whose curious choice of party attire was featured here yesterday, recently sat still long enough to speak with National Public Radio’s Scott Simon. The latter could well have allowed Leitch to peddle his tried and tested spiel about crusty-press-box-reporters being out of touch with today’s fan, but instead took Will to task for some rather bizarre comments about prominent African-Americans, and didn’t let the Deadspin editor escape without suggesting he’s every bit as big a pandering creep as the television bozos he routinely lampoons.
Remarkably, with the exception of this entry, I’ve not seen a reference to said NPR interview elsewhere. That mainstream media outlets who’ve published Will’s work — The Sporting News, New York, The New York Times and GQ amongst them — might not consider such an exchange newsworthy is hardly a surprise. But the deafening silence from the sports blogosphere is rather out of character.
Let’s just imagine for a minute, a prominent pro jock, noted print journalist or sports television personality was interrogated about his or her racial sensibilities on a radio program and took it on the chin nearly as badly as Leitch. What’s the likelihood this hypothetical incident would go unnoticed by the same sports blogs who routinely cover even the slightest faux pas by an athlete or broadcaster?
Either there’s an overwhelming (quiet) consensus that Scott Simon’s out to lunch (but not so nutty that anyone feels compelled to defend Leitch), or there’s a glaring double standard.
(There’s also the possibility no one listens to NPR.)
This has been some kinda month for Deadspin’s Will Leitch. Not only has he been wowing a national TV audience with his star turn as Christian radio host Chris Kennedy (above) on “Friday Night Lights”, but I’m told he’s got a new best seller in the bookstores, “God Save The Fran”. It’s about time someone had the guts to write an entire book about how Fran Drescher has so much more going on than a nice pair of legs, and while I’m not sure Will’s the man for the job, America’s sports fans his associates (and Will’s editor) would surely say otherwise.
If that weren’t enough excitement, Leitch is hosting a Super Bowl party and Mr. Irrelevant’s Chris Mottram is nearly beside himself with anticipation.
Going to a party hosted and attended by sports bloggers (along with endless amounts of beautiful women, I’m certain) in a nondescript sports bar in a strip mall somewhere around Glendale, Arizona is more intriguing to me than, say, the Maxim party (although not as intriguing as Dan Majerle’s party). Plus, Steinz and Ufford will be there. Actually, I think those two will be everywhere together this week. Word is that they’re sharing a hotel room. Hilarity is sure to ensue.
Granted, my own SB XLII party is unlikely to consist of much more than sharing a plate of nachos and a couch with a dog and two cats (one of ‘em prone to excessive coughing). But I couldn’t help wonder if a Leitch-hosted event would really be, y’know, off the hook (as the kids say) by comparison.
Judging from the snapshots on offer at Will’s Flickr page — helpfully linked to last week at Deadspin following the “God Save The Fran” publication shindig, this shall indeed be a killer event. A lot of major companies would balk at being associated with someone who exhibits this sort of cultural sophistication, but I salute both of them for standing by their man. Don’t let the pressure groups push you around, Harper-Collins and The Sporting News! Let freedom ring!
The above is currently being flogged by 289.com. Not since the Hitler European Tour tee have I seen a shirt as likely to get the wearer barred from most right-thinking establishments.
From Boston Daily‘s interview with “God Save The Fan” promo-touring Will Leitch.
BD: I really enjoyed the chapter about finding a bar to watch the Cardinals play the Mets (during the 2006 NLCS). Who can™t relate to an experience like that?
WL: When I walk down the streets of New York City and I see someone wearing a Cardinals hat, it™s like, ˜Yeah!™ And if I wasn™t wearing a Cardinals hat, you™d think I was crazy. To have all those Cardinals fans in one place was sensory overload. People are moving away from where they grew up, and a lot of times that means moving away from your team
Before that series, it was like, ˜Oh how cute. He™s a Cardinal fan,™ and when the Mets played the Cardinals, they hated me. It was fun to find that oasis. My favorite line from that is when we went back to the bar for Opening Day, we were all being nice and shaking hands, and a friend said, ˜This is weird. A few months ago, I got to third base with every woman in here.™ That kind of summed it up.
And what an oasis it must’ve been. I can’t think of any reason — let alone St. Louis’ recent status as Gonorrhea Capital Of The U.S. — why getting to 3rd base with a bar full of St. Louis ex-pats wouldn’t be the greatest thing in the world. But please, hands up, all of the actual New York readers who find the sight of traveling and/or displaced Cards fans on the 7 train, in the mezzanine at Shea Stadium, populating Gotham’s taverns, etc., to be “cute”.
(these guys shall honor Will’s request of “Speak English Or Die” just as soon as they learn the chords to “How Soon Is Now”)
From the 2008 Hardball Times Baseball Annual, an excerpt from “The Deadspin Spin On 2007″
Sammy Sosa hits his 600th home run to the cheers of a few thousand Rangers fans who mercifully for him, don’t speak English and lack the ability to put together words to form accusatory questions.
Strangely, Leitch’s irreverent recap of the 2007 baseball season failed to mention Tony La Genius’ inability to recite the alphabet.
The boxscore from June 20 cites a paid attendence of 37,564. There’s no breakdown of how many of those patrons spoke English and/or were slavish Sammy fans, but there’s all sorts of details the modern boxscore is lacking.
David Colon of The Gil Meche Experience has already noted the heavy irony of Deadspin’s Will Leitch tisk-tisking over his alma mater’s sports page going all TMZ on the likes of Jake Peavy.
And funnily enough, Will parlayed his experience at the Daily Illini and the Sporting News into a full-time job reposting drunk athlete photos.
Today’s no-good kids aren’t cutting their teeth on serious journalism like Will. They’re just going directly into drunk athlete pics. I wonder where they got the idea this might be a fun or lucrative thing to do?
In the meantime, the biggest, most widely-read chunk of the sportsdude blogosphere is almost entirely dependent on sub-FHM (or in some cases, copped from FHM) visual stimuli in order to generate any traffic whatsoever. If you’re waiting for Leitch to take a bold stand against such lazy minds, don’t hold your breath.
Much the way Leitch thought the kid who got the OJ interview scoop for ESPN was worthy of ridicule, he’s awfully selective in these instances.
In any case, Kyle Orton should be thrilled to know someone is standing up for higher standards.
Though I’m not entirely sure what’s newsworthy about this not-so-humble blog receiving an (automated?) link from ESPN.com (particularly as Henry Abbot has already gone to judicious lengths to debate NSFW / SFW-tendencies), I’m gonna enjoy a tasty luncheon of delicious ironing over Will Leitch feigning umbrage over the WWL failing to include Deadspin amongst their linked sports sites.
We thank CSTB for its blog roll service and thoroughly endorse the site for a position at Page 2, but if only they can keep saying “cock.”
I’d like to think a thin, fleeting slice of recognition for CSTB from a beta section at ESPN.com and said organization’s blackballing of a
mainstream competitor dangerous threat to the status quo like Leitch are entirely coincidental. And while I’m grateful for the job recommendation from Mr. Leitch, I really can’t afford the pay cut. But as far as moving to Olbermann’s least favorite city is concerned, to paraphrase one of my favorite blogs (one strangely absent from Deadspin or ESPN’s blogrolls), you go live in Bristol, Will.
Rather than confuse cheap-ass notoriety with some kind of achievement, I’m instead going to boycott ESPN.com for the remainder of the week or until they appoint the guy from Nosebleeds NFL Blog to determine some sort of fair link policy (perhaps in collaboration with the ombudslady), whichever comes first.
It is very tempting to claim Sports Illustrated’s venerable Tom Verducci has forgotten more about baseball than Deadspin’s Will Leitch will ever learn. That, however, is probably a gross exaggeration. It might be more to the point to say that I’ve forgotten more about George Plimpton than Leitch has learned about Verducci, but either way, let’s review Will’s comments regarding Tom.
In ’05, Verducci participated in Toronto’s spring training in Dunedin, FL. Last Monday, Verducci played right field for the Blue Jays during their Cooperstown, NY exhibition against the Orioles.
Were I a paying customer that afternoon, I might’ve been somewhat dismayed at Toronto denying playing time to another member of the organization in favor of the SI scribe. And while I don’t know Will Leitch’s whereabouts that day, he seems to take unusual umbrage for an altogether different reason.
We understand Verducci’s instinct; playing baseball was one of the most pleasurable things we’ve ever done, and we miss it, pretty much every day. But after a while, it really does just become a vanity project; yes, yes, Tom, we understand that you are in better shape than just about everybody else who covers baseball. But it might be time to let it go.
We understand the notion; believe us, Tom, we do. But it’s probably time to move on now. Every athlete scoffs that all sports reporters are just frustrated athletes. You’re not doing much to prove them wrong. We know it hurts. We know. But time to put the spikes away.
I guess I missed the part of Verducci’s article where he announced he’d be doing this annually. But just the same, he might do well to take Will’s advice and stick to far more dignified journalistic pursuits — like taking batting practice against John Rocker.