The Stake Won't Leave

I'm about one day behind the rest of the world right now, which is only partially the fault of shifting time zones. Hope to recover fully by this afternoon.

Not that anyone else needs to weigh in on the Will/Buzz matter, especially seeing as it's already a century old in blog-years. But as much as I disdain 90% of the blogs being written today–sorry, I only feel real solidarity with the good ones—and as immune as I think FD is to a lot of the anti-blog criticism, I'm still mad as hell and need to say something.

I still don't get why Buzz got to comport himself like an unhinged, drunken bully, and have it tacitly excused off by Costas as [loosely] "those old school fiery writers, they tell it like it is." If Will had gone on there cursing and chain smoking, it would've been used against him in an instant to confirm all sorts of stereotypes. But as much as everyone's saying "oh, he played himself with bluster," the fact remains that Bissinger was allowed to do that. It was his right as a "real writer."

And then when Costas got all high-and-mighty about the informed experienced that comes from sitting in the press box, or getting access after games. Please. That's one big machine, and most people play along with it as effortlessly as possible. This romanticism they're projecting comes down not to newspaper reporting, but just to paying attention to sports—sometimes easier from a press seat—and then maybe, just maybe, happening to coax one or two candid quotes out of an athlete that 50 other people don't overhear. Time that, in my experience, could often be better spent trying to, you know, write.

Today, I'm pretty much angry at everyone. Angry at old dudes who think their dying medium makes them better than me. Angry at shit bloggers who give the medium (which is all it is, a way to deliver information) a bad name. And just generally pissed off that, in some remote way, FreeDarko could be lazily included in this discussion. Like if you want to talk about writing chops, and ability to capture the moment, and all that shit that Costas has taped onto his eyelids, I will go toe to toe with anyone. I do not give a fuck.

I like humor, and pithiness, and humanizing gossip (how is that any more pernicious than THE STORYLINE) that some people have a problem with, and yet really, part of me just wants to print out some of my best stuff and use it to beat the living shit out of these blog haters. Because the sweeping, dismissive nature of their arguments doesn't just prove their ignorance, or show they're threatened by a new way of delivering information. It's an insult to people who do this as a means to write, plain and simple.

So yeah, consider this a fatwa. For basketball, stay eyes opened for a Quotemonger and some Deadspin previews.

BONUS: Shanoff's take, published at exactly the same time as mine. It's the analytical ying to my apocalyptic, self-absorbed yang. And I agree with every word of it, when I'm not busy eating glass and trashing all my hosts' furniture. Because that's how real writers do. I am wearing a white tee, and plan to drive off a cliff with my girl in the passenger side very, very soon. EARLY.

UPDATE: Heere is that Quotemonger.

UPDATE 2: Hornets/Spurs preview

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At 5/02/2008 11:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shanoff link busted, BTW.

At 5/02/2008 11:38 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...


At 5/02/2008 11:45 AM, Blogger venerableseed said...

just wondering why costas didn't ask bissinger about his batshit crazy "The Olympics should be banned" editorial from the Sunday NY Times. That was some insane poorly written stereotypical-blog-type ranting if I ever saw one.

Why can't these baby boomers accept that just b/c some appears in print that doesn't make it legitimate (not even the Times) and vice versa.

either way, newspapers will be gone soon enough and they'll all be scrambling anyway post buyout trying to break into the blog market.

At 5/02/2008 12:06 PM, Blogger The Other Van Gundy said...

I love how Bissinger talks about how his 16 year old son will be doing most his reading on the internet, instead of opening a newspaper or book - as if the words internet monkeys put together aren't the same as the guys in print.

What a bizarre fallacy, this idea that just because you can pick something up it's somehow more legit. People don't trust the internet the same way we don't trust anything intangible. Weird species.

At 5/02/2008 12:10 PM, Blogger redrawblak said...

it's all about control...the ongoing emancipation of technology has brought us a freedom of information that's terrifying to some people. the decentralizing of the control of information (a process which has slowly been running its course since before the time of Gutenburg) has ALWAYS elicited this kind of response from the people (formerly) in control. i don't think that the sports media being gradually made irrelevant by the blogosphere is quite as momentous as the invention of movable type, but I do think the larger paradigm shift in how, when, and where we get our information (and how much of it we get) could have similarly far-reaching effects. we can hope so.

the revolution will not be televised!! it may well show up on my rss reader, though...

At 5/02/2008 12:36 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...


At 5/02/2008 2:03 PM, Blogger S.F. said...

Is there any group of people more thin-skinned, however, than bloggers? I mean really. Yes, it's extremely lazy when bloggers are grouped together or labeled as basement-dwelling idiots, etc., etc., but whenever one blog is criticized, it seems like 12 more jump all over the person and act like their honor has been insulted. Yet they use just as many cliches to describe the dreaded mainstream media: dying medium, dinosaurs, etc.

If you're that convinced of the evil and inevitable demise of the printed word...why not publish your book as a free E-book instead?

As Whitlock wrote, Leitch as a martyr is a role he plays to perfection (Whitlock, who I usually can't stand, had a very balanced and good take on the whole thing). And I really like Deadspin, and Free Darko, and dozens of other of blogs, but the overreaction - on both sides - just gets really old. If you look at journalism websites, there are just as many dead-tree writers criticizing Bissinger's insane rant as bloggers. I wonder how many bloggers ever criticize Leitch? Are they able to take their critical eye and look at the acred cows in their own medium?

Joe Posnanski, writer for the KC paper and a noted blogger, has a very balanced look at this as well.


But really, Shoals, you wanna have a writing duel? Writer fights were boring when it was Gore Vidal and William Buckley and the idea of them is no more appealing today.

At 5/02/2008 2:16 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

While Buzz is clearly guilty of presenting a profane, loud, and stupid argument ("Blogs are terrible, look at this one paragraph from this one blog!"), Will Leitch certainly made a few mistakes of his own. Not being prepared is one; a larger mistake is not owning up to reality, which is that Deadspin is a site that sometimes embarrasses athletes, and that isn't representative of all blogs. No Shanoff, blogging is not a meritocracy. If it really was, than Free Darko would have Deadspin numbers, in hits. Merit and talent don't necessarily equal popularity - they don't in other mediums, right?

All movies, I hope, are not judged by the fact that the atrocious Spider-Man 3 was the most viewed movie last year, right? So why are all sports blogs judged by the fact that Deadspin is the most popular?

The sports blogging world is like the sports radio world, in too many ways. You don't need "credentials" to be a successful radio host; you don't need access; those who succeed the most do tend to dumb down the discussion, and talk about sports and "guy stuff" in a way that attracts the inner 21-year old in their fans. Insert dick joke here.

Dan Brown does not represent the best, or worst, of the published book world. He's just the most popular, the one whose work is easiest to digest into pop culture.

By the way, the idea that journalism is afraid of blogs, and that blogs can do what sports reporters do, is silly. This isn't about newspapers dying; they were as good as dead the day the internet became mainstream. No longer would people want to wait until the next day to find out about news. News would no longer have to be transmitted via paper, but instead via internet.

But blogging is not synomous with the internet. Blogging is a medium, available via the internet. It's the first new medium since radio/TV took off in the 30's. That's why they (the old school) doesn't know how to react to the new media. There hasn't been a new medium introduced in almost 80 years.

At 5/02/2008 2:27 PM, Blogger Brown Recluse, Esq. said...

I'm sure this has been said a million times, but the problem isn't that the internet is killing newspapers. PLENTY of people read newspaper content on the internet. We still need reporters to go out and write the stories. It's the problem of generating the same kind of ad revenue off of the internet that newspapers haven't figured out.

This has also probably been said a million times, but I just got around to watching the clip online. I can't believe Costas read comments off Deadspin as somehow representative of what Will does. Also, I could find WAY worse stuff in the comments on a Chicago Tribune or Washington Post article.

At 5/02/2008 2:30 PM, Blogger Brown Recluse, Esq. said...

I didn't say that right. What I meant is that, if traditional newspapers are hurting in the internet age, it's not because of blogs. It's because of ad revenue. And people reading the news on multiple sites (MSM and not) rather than just one source. Which is also not the fault of bloggers.

At 5/02/2008 2:40 PM, Blogger S.F. said...

Yes, Brown Recluse. Real-estate ads, classifieds, etc., that's what's really killing papers, not stodgy writing, political bents, etc. Whether they figure out a way to get around that...that'll be the key. Because even if papers had invented blogs or had the best bloggers in the world on their staffs, without ads, there is no money.

And also agree completely on the comments on newspaper websites. I don't think papers should have Ever. unmoderated comments. You think people get worked up when commenting about the future of Mike D'Antoni, read the comments on a paper's site when a local meatpacking plant is raided by immigration officials, or when a black guy is convicted of a murder in a predominantly white town.

It's the generalizations about the mediums - whether it's old-schoolers about blogs or blogs about papers - that drives me nuts.

At 5/02/2008 2:43 PM, Blogger Hypothetical Self said...

I segment - or at least the discussion - seemed pretty half-baked altogether. The mediaiton was horrible and why was Braylon Edwards a guest instead of an athlete who wrote a blog? It seemed like a gang-up, for what purpose I do not know. I wonder if the average age of those who watch that show (whatever it is) is akin to the age of the average newspaper reader, because I don't really see anyone young or competent could really get anything substantive from that discussion.

At 5/02/2008 2:55 PM, Blogger EL MIZ said...

when costas read the reader comments as if it were leitch's material, there should have been blinking lights on the screen that said "IRONY."

i thought the bissigner anger over it was pretty hilarious. these guys (ie costas and bissinger and basically all people over 50? who don't really get the internet and what you can do on it) interpret the amount of visitors (aka the most money in ad $$$ revenue i'm guessing) as the "best" blogs. that's just silly. the fact that deadspin is the most popular site by pushing tabloid type shit (in addition to a lot of other content) should not surprise people, just like people don't make the case for the national enquirer being the best of journalism b/c it sells the most copies.

why was braylon edwards on the panel?

At 5/02/2008 3:10 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

I'm about to leave, so really fast:

-I don't see blogs as a unified front. It's a medium. Totally blank. There are plenty of blogs that make me wish I were dead.

-I have nothing against print media. I write for magazine, used to write for papers in a former life. I like holding a physical object and the pay is good. And yeah, I like having institutional support and editors and promotion, which I wouldn't have as an e-book.

-If I took Buzz personal, it's because I do think of myself as a writer in the traditional sense. I resent it being implied, by him and Costas, that good writing is somehow incompatible with—or actively discouraged by—this new medium.

-When it comes to Deadspin, look, Will has absolutely mastered that form. I enjoy it. But I know he differentiates between that and more traditional writing, as do I when I'm doing short posts for TSB.

-Which brings me to my real point: There's three things at issue here:

1. The internet
2. The short post blog format
3. Access.

I can't speak for the whole wide world, but I see FD as a platform for writing. Without the internet, I never would've found an audience for this.

Short posts are fun, but no one's saying they challenge 1000 word opuses for breadth or depth.

And yeah, they often still depend on someone have access. For the zillionth time, this is why Dan Steinberg should be studied by every newspaper in the universe. He does both jobs.

Also, while I don't unequivocally take the side of every blogger out there whenever someone like Bissinger sounds off. I have a few times in the past, and I totally regretted it. But don't forget, Will's not a "sacred cow" for me. He's someone I write for regularly, whose work—on Deadspin and elsewhere—I respect, and whom I like in person. Not saying that I'd go to war for him or whatever, but he's someone I consider a peer.

At 5/02/2008 4:06 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

I'm sure this has been said a million times, but the problem isn't that the internet is killing newspapers. PLENTY of people read newspaper content on the internet

Exactly. This is a point that often gets mixed up: Newspapers are getting killed by the internet. People under 30 rarely read a paper regularly right now; that means that most newspapers readership will soon be gone, when the baby boomers die out.

That doesn't mean reporters and news organizations are going to disappear. They won't. But the medium - the actual physical f*cking paper, ya'll - will be rare. They'll have to move their content to the internet, as most newspapers have. And, as was pointed out, they'll have to figure out how to make money doing that way, otherwise newspapers are going out of business.

They might be replaced by a collaborative of reporters that are employed by a new gathering site... an AP.com. But playing Nostradamus ain't the point right now.

The point is this: the medium of newspapers is dying, because it's been replaced by a faster, more direct medium (the internet), and that actually has nothing to do with blogs and blogging. "Uninformed" bloggers won't replace reporters at newspapers, as Buzz and his ilk fear. Online reporters, like Steinberg, will replace reporters in the papers....

At 5/02/2008 4:59 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

every stone in this topic has been turned by now, i'm sure, but the thing that most got to me about bizzinger's rant really had nothing to do with the blogs vs. newspapers distinction--it was his, and costas', attitude that somehow profane writing=bad writing (even disregarding for a minute the irony of buzz storming up the most profanity of anyone on that show).

that attitude, above anything makes buzz lose credibility, in my mind. as a so-called "real" writer (which he is...which is why this whole thing is so surprising), i would think he'd understand the presumptuousness of saying a piece of writing's invalid just because it includes some swear words, or shock value depictions or whatever.

even that "fetus-face windbag" comment (i think that's how it went)--yeah, i know, it's pulled from the comments section and shouldn't be attributed to will etc., etc.--wasn't poor writing just because it said sean salisbury looked like a fetus. if it was poor writing, and i don't have the authority to say that it was, it was either because of its lack of rhythm, or cadence, or misplaced anger; sure, the profanity might be symptomatic of those things, but if the same insult had been stated just a little more eloquently, it wouldn't have been too shittily written at all.

this is getting into a whole nother area, but i think movies like "superbad" illustrate my point pretty well. there's a difference between the characters in that movie's easy, languid, tossed-off crassness, and the blunt, dead, dumb-ass profanity you get in movies like "waiting" or some shit. it's the same reason i put some of the swear word-filled posts billups has made right up there with any of the more delicate prose shoals churns out.

so, so what if some writer's handle on deadspin is "balls deep," or however else costas mangled it? then again, i could have just horribly misinterpreted bizzinger's point on this whole thing.

At 5/02/2008 7:26 PM, Blogger Abe said...

Just seemed like an angry, confused old man to me - why do I care if he doesn't get It?

I did enjoy the irony of him basically saying: "You are fucking illegitimate because assholes say profane shit on your site, unlike my goddamn great columns where I don't use Carlin's 7 words."

Oh, and what exactly is he trying to imply about homie being on Percocet? That's a pretty specific dig. Misguided dadspeak? Or was he just really craving some painkillers at that moment?

At 5/02/2008 7:56 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

Hornets/Spurs is up.

Buzz's anti-profanity stance confused me.

"Jimmy Olsen on percocet" was kind of an awesome turn of phrase, though inaccurate in this case.

At 5/02/2008 9:42 PM, Blogger MaxwellDemon said...

I don't think anybody else has mentioned it, but I liked that the guy Buzz names as the epitome of great traditional sportswriting--W.C. Heinz--is, what's the word, dead.

Symbolism. Boom.

At 5/02/2008 10:11 PM, Blogger salt_bagel said...

I have nothing substantial to add to the discussion, other than the fact that I, too, got most mad at Buzz when he turned it into a "you can't write" thing. That's just egomaniacal.

Other than that, huzzah to all above.

And of course you know, the plural of opus is opera.

At 5/02/2008 10:15 PM, Blogger salt_bagel said...

Oh, and if there's any question about Bron's true playmaking ability, just look at his stats when Boobie and Wallydog both get hot. Effortless triple double and a blowout.

At 5/02/2008 11:04 PM, Blogger El Presidente said...

Word to the determination.

Also Carlisle interviewed for the Mavs job. FUCK

At 5/02/2008 11:24 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Annnnd we will have a Game 7!

The only thing ATL needs to do now is go down guns blazing. No more of this losing by 30 in Boston shit. Playing just as free and confident on the road as they do at home is the next step in their progression.

At 5/03/2008 12:01 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

28 and 7 in the FIRST HALF? And yet I am filled with foreboding. Why do I feel another passive 4th quarter coming on?

Come on Tracy... just get em back to Houston, and then the cards can fall as they may.

At 5/03/2008 1:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not to be on some Chris Crocker shit, but even if he did go 0 for the 3rd quarter, I'd just like to be the first here to say everyone back the fuck up off TMac. Tonight the Rockets got nothing from Mandry, lost Skip in the 1st half and he was actually playing well, Bobby shit the bed, and obviously no Yao. I don't think Lebron would leave the 1st round either if you took away Boobie/Delonte, Z, and then gave him shitty performances from the rest of his teammates.

At 5/03/2008 1:24 AM, Blogger T. said...

There's clearly nothing Mac can do when Deron Williams is launching 25' three pointers and swishing them.

I'm sorry Mac. Let's hope you and Yao are healthy next year.

cunrnpb - approximation of the sound I made when McGrady was dropping 28 in the first half.

And, uh, Hawks? 3-3? With poor games from Smith AND Johnson?

At 5/03/2008 5:08 AM, Blogger wreakjavik said...

Okay guys, I just got home after being out all night and smoking a decent amount of weed, so I'm not really sure I should be believing my eyes, but...

Did the Hawks really force a game 7?

At 5/03/2008 5:51 AM, Blogger Brian Burke said...

I know this kind of off-topic, but w/r/t the NO/SA series, why is everyone so focussed on the Tyson Chandler/Tim Duncan matchup? In print, blog, and tv coverage of the NBA, not one person has even acknowledged the fact that Bonzi Wells is on the Hornets. I mean, we're all aware that he's that one mysterious dude who's consistently provided a serious matchup problem for Tim Duncan? The one guy in the entire league who consistently prevents him from hitting that 20/10? Who gives a hoot about Tyson Chandler?

At 5/03/2008 6:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


At 5/03/2008 12:45 PM, Blogger Nate Jones said...

I love the sports blogosphere, but hate the tabloid aspect of some blogs. Deadspin and some of the comments on Deadspin just aren't appealing to me. Once I start managing athletes, the last thing I would want is for one of my players to end up the subject of a post on one of those sites. When I think of a great sports blog in the traditional since of sports blogging, I look at Henry Abbott's TrueHoop or great team sites like Forum Blue and Gold or Sactown Royalty. When I think of great writing on the sports blog platform I think of FreeDarko. If those sites (or even a ton more) were used as the examples on Costas now, I don't think you'd see the type of reaction you saw. There is no place for tabloid b.s. in sports. I'm sure Will and TBL and whoever else likes covering that kind of stuff are nice dudes and all, but for me they are turning a lot of sports coverage into some girly/queery US Weekly type shit. And it's funny because its the same type of stuff we've been knocking guys like Peter Vecsey (and the NY Post) for covering for years. But I guess because it's on Deadspin or whatever, its cool now. If Deadspin is a reflection of the average sports fan, then I'm really not happy to be included in that bunch. Because honestly, what has drawn me to sports is the games and the players, not where they were caught partying, or who they are sleeping with. The bottom line is that the top sports blogs per ball hype (Deadspin, the Big Lead, SportsbyBrooks, With Leather, etc.) have a tabloid nature to their posts and their comments sections. And that is why sports blogging gets a bad name. That's not to say traditional media gets a pass with this. I mean ESPN makes a living posting headlines that are tabloid in nature. I really just want to get back to the games and the players on the field/court. Maybe it speaks more to the culture we're in today than anything? I always tell everyone, if you don't love sports that much, but want to make a ton of dough, you should just start your own sports TMZ. I just love sports too much to do ever be tempted by that.

At 5/03/2008 1:06 PM, Blogger EL MIZ said...

costas and sports media in general are so fucking hypocritical it, to quote buzz bissinger, pisses the shit outta me!

last night on the 1am EST sportscenter, after 3 game 7's and a day full of good baseball, the lead story was the hawks/celtics going to game 7. the 2nd story was a 5-minute segment on ALL motherfucking angles of this marvin harrison bullshit. he is being investigated and there really is no news surrounding this, but ESPN covered it ad naseum until the commercial break. they want to complain that sites like deadspin are hurting the athletes when harrison, who has as clean of a record as you'll find in the NFL, is merely implicated in some police investigation they spend an entire second segment on him. i had to scroll down to the middle of deadspin to find anything on harrison.

At 5/03/2008 3:51 PM, Blogger Sweat of Ewing said...

I might be a bit late, but I think Wizznutzz put the Wilbon blogger thing best:

"The rules have changed and they changed because of a little magic thing called COLECOVISION and theres one in every basement and a thoiusand little conchs and a thousand voices on the internet...

Its the internet! Its an opensource frontier, its an apartment with the blinds left up, its a place of gatherers and the gathered, its a midget running through the big science lab letting out the monkeys."


At 5/03/2008 5:43 PM, Blogger Ryland Walker Knight said...

Unfortunately, the film blogosphere is subject to the same anti-online stance as well. As you can see right here, among other places. But most of these arguments are a plain waste of time because this medium will continue to grow in prominence and worthiness (or so I hope (dream?)) in due time and these comments threads will be forever forgotten. Still: so far, at least, the internet is forever! Unless somebody gets clumsy (or depressed) and hits "delete." I mean, Google is a wonder. Blah blah blah.

I write a film blog, kinda, and a whatever blog, kinda, and contribute to other online film journals, but I always make time for some FD histrionics and hilarity. And, you know, basketball. The fact that Shoals' beloved ATLiens pushed this series to 7 is awesome, hilarious, amazing. Can't wait for the wrap up post/column/thoughts.

At 5/03/2008 6:00 PM, Blogger Ryland Walker Knight said...

Okay, I just started watching that Costas video... wow that guy is an asshole.

At 5/04/2008 12:59 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

God sucks at basketball compared to Chris Paul.


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