“There’s a school of thought that you never really know a baseball stadium until it’s hosted a World Series,” writes Deadspin founder/former editor Will Leitch (above, left) for Sports On Earth, and considering there’s few people alive who can remember the last time Wrigley Field played host in 1945...sorry, what the fuck is Will on about? Oh, that’s right, THE NEW YORK METS, who unlike his beloved Cardinals, will face the winner of the Jays/Royals ALCS next Tuesday night in either Toronto or K.C. When the 2015 World Series shifts to Queens a week from tonight, Citi Field, gushes Leitch, “is ready for its close-up” (“the World Series takes something familiar — a baseball game, at your local park — and fuses it with massive import, turning it into something extravagant and eternal”), even fantasizing that “the World Series is not a destination for the ‘one percent’ the way the Super Bowl is” (yeah, it’s a super accessible, affordable night for the everyfan!)
Citi Field is an excellent new baseball stadium, one of my favorites. (I’ve been to all current MLB stadiums but five: Comerica Park in Detroit, Globe Life Park in Texas, Marlins Park in Miami, Minute Maid Park in Houston and Petco Park in San Diego.) It’s big but not imposing or aloof. It’s uniquely designed with its own peculiarities, but it’s not aggressively weird or off-putting. The food is terrific. The sightlines are reliable everywhere. You can see the city from the upper concourse. You can take a train home. If it weren’t for the somewhat-garish-even-for-a-ballpark advertising signage, I wouldn’t have a single complaint. I went to the first baseball game at Citi Field — an exhibition game between Georgetown and St. John’s — and I liked it from the get-go. It’s a wonderful ballpark.
Well, yeah, of course Will loves the place. It was initially designed with a very specific team in mind — the 1985 Cardinals! But aside from Citi Field’s formerly cavernous dimensions conspiring to y’know, cost David Wright what should’ve been the most productive years of his career, “the sightlines are reliable everywhere”. ARE YOU FUCKING SHITTING ME, WILL? Have you ever actually sat in the 400′s or 500′s and wondering exactly what was happening to a deep fly ball hit underneath you? Have you ever paid real U.S. dollars to sit in what’s optimistically dubbed the “Pepsi Porch” only to have zero clue what’s happening on a ball hit to the warning track? Is having an appreciably worse view of the action than someone watching the game on television from across the street your idea of reliable sightlines?
Man, good thing they laid off so many Sports On Earth staffers to save space & money for Will’s trenchant analysis of stuff he can’t be fucking bothered to investigate.
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.