The Sports Putz’ ‘Grantland’ : Tireless Champion Of Cultural Mediocrity Is Once Again, A (Deserving) Punching Bag

Posted in Blogged Down, Sports Journalism, The Marketplace at 8:18 pm by

The potential that Bill Simmons’ hotly anticipated Grantland might “create a market for (paid) long-form sportswriting” was one of the nicer things CSTB’s David Roth had to say about the site’s soft launch last month. Mobutu Sese Seko of Mr. Destructo was far less charitable, saying of Grantland, “Allegedly it’s a serious cultural website maintained by a man whose cultural mind looks like one of those spooky MRIs of “ecstasy brains,” with all the black dead spots, and a bit where someone burned “SWEEP THE LEG” into it with a laser scalpel. Its celebrity contributors list reads like a Who’s Who of people whose only metric for understanding the human experience is the singular preciousness of themselves or the nauseating insipidity of corporate-retreat science.” Of course, such an evisceration appeared before Grantland’s proper debut. Now that the fateful day has arrived, however, Tim Marchman largely echoes Mobutu’s sentiments.

The ‘all-star lineup’ of Dave Eggers, Malcolm Gladwell and Chuck Klosterman is even sillier than it seems, because this is less an array of high end writers than the idea someone who doesn’t read might have of an array of high end writers. I’m not the first to make the point, but these three represent three faces of Thomas Friedman, amnesia and illiteracy represented as fake childishness, fake rigor and fake irony. Hell, if you’ve got the cash, land James Ellroy, Bill James, Michael Lewis and David Samuels, which would further produce the amusing spectacle of Bill Simmons editing them.

Simmons’ inaugural effort is remarkably… Simmonish, with him going on at length about what a great friend of Z-grade celebrity Jimmy Kimmell he is, throwing out a couple of gratuitous cuss words just to show how edgy the site is (while commenting on how silly it is to do this), and going on for 500 words about fucking Coldplay. This leads me to think, first, that I really have to get out of the sportswriting racket, because making your way to the top apparently involves nothing more glamorous than chilling with Jimmy Kimmell and getting to hear Coldplay rehearse, and second, that if he ever gets into writing about food Simmons is probably going to talk about the glories of Velveeta-Miracle Whip-Wonder Bread-iceberg lettuce sandwiches with cool glasses of Michelob Lite served alongside.

Of Grantland’s inception, Simmons writes, “we haven’t had a Coldplay/Hollywood Boulevard-type moment yet,” which oughta be expected given it’s still early days for the Disney-backed, LA-based website. But if that’s the sort of transcendent occasion The Sports Putz aspires to recreate, and god help me, I never thought I’d say this, I’ll take A.J. Daulerio’s cynicism and arsenal of surreptitiously-obtained penis pictures any day of the week. Not that either option strikes me as particularly ideal, but I’m way less nauseated by the venality of Daulerio’s cock-for-cash-grab than the celebration of homogeneity that forms the crux of Simmons’ worldview. I don’t think we have much to do with either approach over here, and I’m immensely proud to be associated with each of CSTB’s talented contributors (even if most of them moved on to opportunities that’ll look much more impressive on their resumes). We haven’t had our Coldplay/Hollywood Boulevard-type moment, either, though whether it’s 35 posts a week or 5, you can rest assured this blog will remain committed to standing in stark opposition to anyone who’d have the Kennedy Center honor Ian Ziering.

9 Responses to “The Sports Putz’ ‘Grantland’ : Tireless Champion Of Cultural Mediocrity Is Once Again, A (Deserving) Punching Bag”

  1. Bez says:

    What’s worse, Simmons on sports or Klosterman on music?

  2. Dave says:

    This sounds like it’ll be a really neat car wreck.

  3. ben c says:

    Simmons is like those extra peanut butter peanut butter cups (not that I’d know)- they seem like normal junk food but give you the shits. By the way, are you guys going to do anything about the Stanley Cup series, or is it just too well reported on as it is? It’s been a fun one.

  4. Nick says:

    The Mr. Destructo and Marchman pieces are great. My only objection is that I think David Brooks is far more a part of the Simmonsion ethos than Friedman. Sir Thomas is awful, don’t get me wrong. But Brooks, the mouthpiece of the self-satisfied shallow elite, is probably a must-read for the Sports Putz. Brooks writes much more with that self-awareness that fills Simmons’ columns.

  5. Ben Schwartz says:

    Simmons named it after Grantland Rice, the worst sort of industry friendly journalist, ie, the classy apologist. If he named it “Runyon,” or even “Oscar Madison,” I’d be more curious. What I like about CSTB and some other sites is that it’s writing about sports from people I can understand trying to make sense of an over-sized, over-hyped, over-fed sports world. Grantland Rice’s journalism is what we saw when Peter Gammons interviewed A-Rod about steroids and LeBron held court with The Decision. Maybe I’m reading too much into the name, but he didn’t pick it out of a hat. The logo, design, and masthead quote (which is an outright lie digitally engraved into the DNA of “Grantland”) seem to be an emotional answer to the Woody Paiges and Mariottis of the world, not an intelligent one.

  6. GC says:

    CSTB’s hockey coverage is pretty modest these days — and that’s being diplomatic. Mr. Cohen has far greater insight than yours truly, though as you might expect, has no shortage of other outlets for his writing on a variety of topics. Really, there’s no reasonable excuse. From what little I’ve watched of Vancouver v. Boston (all of Game 3, only a few moments of the others), i’m not inclined to argue with you (though I’m even less inclined to provide analysis sans sufficient background…and I’m loathe to vouch for someone else’s take on a game I’ve barely seen).

    I won’t even attempt to justify hockey’s place in the CSTB pecking order. We can do better — and that’s mostly on me.

  7. Jason Cohen says:

    Here’s what I would have said: totally disagree with all those experts who said series was over after Boston’s home-ice dominance. No, really. I would have.

    (I’ve actually had to pay closer attention to the Mavs – and I know less about the NBA than GC does about hockey)

  8. GC says:

    “Here’s what I would have said: totally disagree with all those experts who said series was over after Boston’s home-ice dominance. No, really. I would have. ”

    entire CSTB posts have consisted of less original content (well, mine anyway)

    I refuse to acknowledge anyone could possibly know less about any topic than I know about the NHL. Sum total of my NHL knowledge : Sean Avery is very well dressed…and you can chant “Potvin sucks” in midtown Manhattan some nights of the week without anyone looking at you like you’re weird.

  9. ben c says:

    I’m not particularly knowledgeable about hockey but it’s been very fun to watch and has had all the subplots you’d want in a championship series- biting, ‘win it for the fallen comrade’, needlessly inflammatory post game quotes, not to mention Millbury calling out the Vancouver forwards on national TV (or at least Versus, whatever the hell that is). I’m surprised with all the drama it hasn’t caught more peoples attention, although perhaps this is partially due to Millbury and his aura of unbelievable douchedom (Thelma and Louise? It’s not even creative). Relieved, though, I was worried you guys were angry Whalers fans or something…

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