Friday, June 27, 2008

AJ Daulerio New Deadspin Editor;
Clay Travis Named Associate Editor

Hope none of you put your money on me! (I wouldn't have.)

Two amazing hires, starting at the top. AJ Daulerio is an incredible talent and he offers a seamless transition from the Leitch Era; the talented Clay Travis is/was woefully undervalued at, and this is his perfect platform that should introduce him to even more fans. Rick Chandler stays in place. Awful Announcing's Brian Powell takes a new role.

Can't wait to see what these guys can do, but the future looks very good for Deadspin.

On that note, all best to Will Leitch in his new post-Deadspin life. Fantastic run is understatement.

-- D.S.

Friday 06/27 A.M. Quickie:
NBA Draft, Nets, Mayo, Love, Garza, More

UPDATE: The Stephen A. Smith sock puppet is, hands down, my favorite tradition of the NBA Draft. Brilliant -- as ever.

If you followed my NBA Draft Twitter feed last night, you know how I felt about the broadcast: That was the single worst desk of analysts I have ever seen for a major sporting event. The analysis from Mark Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy was banal (at best); there was no chance of conventional wisdom being driven from what they had to say, because they really didn't say much of anything. Bilas was strong, but he has a fetish for wingspan. You were better off tracking the various live-blogs out there, and I'm not even talking about my Twitter effort.

Anyway, one of my biggest frustrations -- and I have to believe that the NBA told ESPN that it was off-limits on-air -- was that they didn't link the Nets' moves to recruiting LeBron. Cripes, is it so opaque?! Yi? China foothold. Lopez? Post-anchoring 7-footer. Anderson and Douglas-Roberts? High-upside bench complements, CDR in particular being a steal who might one day replace the need for Vince Carter. This wasn't a draft about 2008 -- it was a draft about 2010. This should be all that people are talking about today -- certainly the biggest story -- and it led my Sporting News column, as you could imagine.

UPDATE: Ken Berger of Newsday totally gets it.

Otherwise, the draft was midly interesting, but not really. The Mayo-Love trade -- which came well after the choices were made -- was kind of fascinating. Doesn't Jefferson-Love-Miller-Foye feel like a good core for the T'wolves? And doesn't Mayo-Conley-Gay do the same for the Grizzlies? At least they will be fun to watch.

Update: Henry Abbott is on to something, that the Grizzlies might be positioning to trade Mayo to the Heat for Beasley. Plus other things, but that would seem to make the most sense for everyone, given everyone's interests.

The rest of the draft was a bit of a dud. Yes, the Heat got Beasley, but rumors won't go away that they'll try to shop him still. Yes, the Sonics got "next Rondo" Russell Westbrook, a pretty good complement to Durant. I think that the Blazers did well to trade for Bayless, who is a terrific complement to Brandon Roy. If you're going to have a small combo guard, it helps to have a large combo guard running beside him. For all the hoopla around Derrick Rose and the "Era of the Point Guard," I think the real trend we'll see is the "Era of the Complementary Combo Guards."

On a personal level, I was entirely disappointed by my Wizards, who passed on all sorts of talent for JaVale McGee, who most believe is a 7-foot stiff who can't even really play defense, let alone offense. I know the Wizards have a pretty full roster, but with yet another playoff flame-out, you'd think they might want someone who can help right away. Guess that's what free-agency is for. (They had my hopes up when they drafted Bill Walker, then traded him away to the Celtics, where I'm sure in 3 years he will be some kind of freakish scoring machine.)

Loved the Heat grabbing Mario Chalmers in the second round. Loved the Nets grabbing CDR, obviously. Loved the fact that the NBA blogging and analyzing fan-boys can't get enough of anything that Portland GM Kevin Pritchard or Seattle GM Sam Presti do.

Oh, and the Knicks blew it, I think. The fans hate the pick and Gallinari's upside is questionable; the right pick if they were going for small forward was Joe Alexander, whose insane work ethic and amazing athleticism would have electrified the Garden from the start. Instead, Alexander ends up in Milwaukee, playing the same position as new franchise cornerstone Richard Jefferson; hey, maybe they will complement each other.

Anyway, the draft is a ton of fun -- right up there with the NCAA Tournament as my favorite event of the sports year. And now it's behind us; we can start looking ahead to summer leagues and the minimal activity in free agency this season. Remember: It's all about 2010. We have two years to get there, but it looks like the Nets are already well on their way.

Full Sporting News column here.

More later.

-- D.S.

NBA Draft Twitter Madness

Here is the link. It is in reverse-chronological order, so scroll down about 100 entries and read up, in all of its frustrated glory. More coming later this morning.

Free Darko's live-blog is a gold standard. (And Shoals wasn't even there -- he was at Deadspin.)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Will Leitch Roast Over at Deadspin

Part 1. (Drew Magary, Alexa Stevenson)

Part 2. (David Hirshey, Whitney Pastorek, Aileen Gallagher, Brian Powell, Eamonn Brennan, Gourmet Spud, Bethlehem Shoals, Dan Steinberg, DJ Gallo, Henry Abbott)

Part 3. (Matt Sussman)

Part 4. (Bill Simmons, in perhaps his most overt "yeah-like-you're-going-to-fire-me" act in his not-quite passive-aggressive surge against ESPN. Plus I earned a name-check, and it's always nice to be remembered.)

Part 5. (JE Skeets: Video!)

Part 6. (Spencer Hall/Orson Swindle)

Part 7. (Amy Blair)

Part 8. (The Dugout)

Part 9. (Kissing Suzy Kolber posse)

Part 10. (Scott Van Pelt)

Part 11. (Deadspin HOF Induction)

Worst. Draft Analysis. Ever

17 years ago tonight, I waited on hold on the Ken Beatrice Show (local DC sports talk radio host) for an hour after the draft was concluded, just so I could confidently proclaim to everyone listening that Bullets draft pick Calbert Cheaney would be "incredible" and has "Jordan-like potential." My brother says he still has the tape saved somewhere. Yeesh. -- D.S.

Thursday 06/26 A.M. Quickie:
NBA Draft, Beasley, Mayo, MLB, More

Reminder: I will be using my Twitter page to comment on the NBA Draft in real time. You can follow me at or just look at the area in the upper-right corner.

So here are a few pieces of intrigue, heading into the Draft:

Will Pat Riley really pass on Beasley? This is the lead of today's Sporting News column. Either he trades the No. 2 pick and the team trading up takes Beasley (and Miami regrets not taking him for, oh, ever) or Miami keeps the No. 2 pick and drafts Mayo over Beasley, which seems incomprehensible -- and I agree Mayo is arguably the 3rd-best pro prospect in the draft class.

I floated this one notion in the column today, and it echoes something that Chad Ford said during his debate with Simmons: If Beasley had come before Durant, we would have talked about Beasley as the transformational player, and Durant -- a year later and by comparison -- would have been picked on for being skinny, a poor defender and a sub-par rebounder. I'm just positing that everyone -- well, certain folks -- invested so much energy in claiming that Durant was this transcendent prospect that the idea that a player could come along a mere year later and not just top Durant's college production, but be a better NBA prospect, causes, what Ford aptly ID'ed as, "cognitive dissonance." Anyway...

Who gets Mayo? I think it's a foregone conclusion that - as long as the Heat trade away the No. 2 pick -- Mayo goes No. 3. (If the Heat keep the 2 and take Mayo, the T'wolves will quickly snatch up Beasley and wonder how they got so lucky.) But assuming it's Rose-Beasley at 1-2, the only question is whether the T'wolves will keep their pick and take Mayo or let one of the drooling teams behind them trade up -- the Sonics? the Knicks? the Bobcats? the Blazers?

What do the Knicks do? With Walsh and D'Antoni replacing Isiah and the home-court advantage for the draft crowd, the Knicks' new era begins tonight. Do they trade David Lee and collect the Grizzlies' No. 5 pick to go with their No. 6 pick? Can they trade up to get Mayo, a new franchise face? Do they trade down, knowing that the pick at No. 6 isn't much different from a little further down? Do they take the Best Guard Available at No. 6? (Bayless? Westbrook? Gordon?) Do they do what I predicted they would and take Jumpin' Joe Alexander?

Who rises? Who falls? Sounds like Russell Westbrook is high on everyone's list, as high as No. 4 after Rose-Beasley-Mayo. Sounds like Marreesse Speights is falling. Seems like DeAndre Jordan is up and down. Seems like Anthony Randolph is the biggest question mark -- most potential, cutting both ways. It is a truism of the draft: Someone gets stuck with a bust; someone gets a hindsight steal. Plural, more than likely.

The draft's biggest winner? Kansas. The national champs won't have a player taken in the Top 10, but they could have 3 taken in the next 10 after that: Brandon Rush (who has tons of momentum); Mario Chalmers (ditto); and Darrell Arthur (less momentum, but still enough potential to go Top 20). If the players in the Top 10 are stuck on perennial Lottery teams, then the players taken in the teens actually have the potential to impact playoff teams' fortunes.

There is more, obviously. You can find the complete column here. As news and rumors break, I'll post updates throughout the day. And don't forget the Twitter event tonight.

Meanwhile, I would say that if any event from yesterday got my attention, it was this Nash charity soccer game on this little field on the Lower East Side in New York. I didn't go, but from the accounts and videos, it sounds like it was (a) pretty amazing to watch, and (b) one of those once-in-a-lifetime things that you wonder why more athletes don't try, given the positive buzz it creates within the local and national communities. (Actually, things like this happen all the time in hoops summer leagues, when NBA players show up to suit up -- GMs may cringe, but I love it.)

More later.

-- D.S.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Death of Len Bias, An Annual Remembrance

NBA Draft week always reminds me of the tragic death of Len Bias.

Like Michael Weinreb -- who put together this must-read (perhaps even definitive) piece on Bias' death -- I was 13 when Bias died (13 being arguably your peak year as an earnest fan before you realize the complexities that come with sports).

And I might just agree with Weinreb that Bias' death was "the most socially influential moment in the history of modern sports." (Presumably, he means what I commonly refer to as "the ESPN Era," which I'd describe as 1980-Present.)

Like many who grew up in suburban Maryland in the mid-80s, I worshipped Len Bias. The memory of his death being announced on TV is something I remember as vividly as if it was yesterday.

-- D.S.

NBA Draft Preview, Continued

Would love to get your own mocks, but to focus even more, let's talk about players you think will have the biggest impact (depends on the team that drafts them, obviously), the ones you think are destined for the dud pile and the ones you think are the sleepers who will surprise. You know you have one or two. Submit them in the Comments and I'll try to update as often as possible.

-- D.S.

Wednesday 06/25 A.M. Quickie:
NBA Draft, Maple Bats, Shaq and More

I was just reminded that this insane Steve Nash celebrity soccer match on the Lower East Side is happening today at 5:30. I wish I could go -- the crowds will be INSANE, I would imagine. But what a fun exhibition. Hopefully, it will make it's way to YouTube shortly after it ends.

Meanwhile, I'm totally immersed in NBA Draft. My Mock Draft Top 10 leads my Sporting News column today, although I waffled between assigning each team the player I think they will draft and accounting for trades by simply slotting the player where I think he'll go.

Will OJ Mayo go No. 3? Almost assuredly. Will he go to the team currently drafting 3rd (T'wolves)? Very likely not. The same could be said for Beasley, which makes this draft one of the most intriguing in recent memory, even if -- beyond the Top 2 or 3 -- there is skepticism how much superstar impact any of the draftees might have.

Anyway, worth noting: Much like my work during the Super Bowl in February, I will be Twittering the draft, rather than live-blogging it. I will make sure that the Twitter feed is at the top of the blog, if you want to check it out here. Otherwise, you can always "follow" my Twitter feed. I promise it will be fast and furious, with a healthy mix of instant hysteria, derision and scorn for the analysts and the usual focus on fashion. (My draft-fashion columns for Page 2 were annually among my favorite to write and most widely read, probably for the coveted "Bar-Mitzvah Boy" and "Best in Show" awards.)

Beyond the draft, I'm intrigued by this MLB maple-bat situation -- which got its poster story with the ump's bleeding face. And some wild MLB history-making last night: The Pirates first win against the Yankees in the regular season EVER? The Orioles first-ever win at Wrigley Field?

Meanwhile, the line of the column probably comes at the end: "Tell Me How My [Blank] Tastes" is the new "Where [Blank] Happens," which I think is quite a good development.

The entire column is available here. More coming later today.

-- D.S.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

On McIntyre and the Future of Sports Blogs

I'm not going to be as nice as Will. (And that was about as outraged of a reaction as I have ever seen from Will.)

If there is/was a "Deadspin Era" in sports media or sports fandom or sports consumption, it may or may not be ending as Will takes his final full-time at-bats this week.

What I do know is that I think that the quotes in that L.A. Times story quite possibly reflect the era's lowest moment. Maybe that's what had Will so hopping.

This is not "Us vs. Them": What a canard, propped up by mainstream media – presumably (and ironically) because it generates page views for the story itself, rather than because it actually exists.

It is "Good vs. Bad," to a large extent. Sure, there are plenty of sorry-ass sports blogs out there. But here's the dirty secret that Buzz Bissinger and Bob Costas and Jason McIntyre don't want you to understand (but if you're reading this blog, you probably already do):

No one reads the really, truly poorly crafted blogs.

At least, no one reads them with any particular frequency or volume, and the more widely read blogs rarely link to their work – giving them a wider audience – precisely because they don't add a lot of value.

Great – even good -- blogs aren't the norm, any more than great newspapers or great columnists or great sportscasts or great journalism isn't the norm. The best serve their core audience – the wider you want that core to be, the harder the effort.

When those great blogs are created – or even individual posts are created – the rest of the community (well-read or not) creates a virtuous circle to promote it. It may start with a single great post that raises a blogger's profile; do enough of them, and you become Matt Ufford or Spencer Hall or Michael Schur or whoever.

What all those great blogs share is a dedication to their own sense of what is good and what isn't – whether you are creating a post yourself or linking to others. They share a commitment to the core audience they are serving, whether it's a particular team, a particular sport, a particular point of view – or, hell, a particular time of day.

What offended me most from that Times article was Jason McIntyre's quote:
"The initial reaction was 'Buzz is a lunatic,' " McIntyre said. "After that, people calmed down, listened to what he said and thought, 'You know, maybe we should clean up our act a little bit.' "
Sigh. Begin rant:

My initial reaction was: Jason McIntyre doesn't speak for me. He doesn't speak for any sports blogger I know. He should speak for himself. If he wants to change his "act," he can feel free, but please don't speak for the rest of us.

I don't know what "we" or "people" McIntyre is talking about: From all accounts and evidence, I don't think he reads very many sports blogs. I don't think he cares very much about other sports blogs. I certainly don't think he has his pulse on what sports bloggers are thinking, one way or the other.

How could he? Here's another dirty secret of the juvenile junior-high-lunch-room sports-blog world: I find it hard to find anyone who says they respect Jason McIntyre or The Big Lead. The rep: McIntyre as an empty apple-polisher who lacks a position of authority or respect among his peers. And this was BEFORE the article.

I suspect that Will's post will launch a healthy meme of folks coming out of the woodwork to agree: McIntyre doesn't speak for me. (Or put another way: "What a d'bag." Wait, Jason, help me here: Was I supposed to stop calling people "douchebags" as part of "cleaning up my act?" I missed your blogdom-wide announcement.)

But it's not Deadspin vs. The Big Lead. It is apparently MANY sports bloggers vs. The Big Lead, which I'm quite sure will earn McIntyre even more undeserved credit within mainstream media. ("If other bloggers don't like or respect him, he MUST be good!")

From what I can tell, McIntyre speaks for Buzz Bissinger. He speaks for Bob Costas. He speaks for He speaks for anyone in mainstream sports media who will talk with him. His mouth was a little full while he "interviewed" Tony Kornheiser, so I wouldn't call it speaking.

From what else I can tell -- and, again, I stopped actively reading it a while ago -- The Big Lead isn't a particularly high-quality blog, aside from the page views, which I and everyone else would fully 'fess up to being envious of – if not envious of the way he generates them. The random gossip and tips about sports media were kind of amusing once, although apparently he isn't going to do so much of that anymore, since Buzz Bissinger inspired him to "clean up his act."

TBL is best-known for its sports-media posts. I guess my biggest problem is that I also think that TBL's sports-media analysis is, 95 percent of the time, functionally retarded. It is like McIntyre doesn't know very much about the business of sports media, which makes his reputation for being the be-all-end-all place for media analysis among sports blogs all the more curious to me. McIntyre's core audience seems to be the self-hating sadness over at, perhaps the bleakest community to be found online.

But let's get back to my point about Jason McIntyre, who I quite expect to leverage this backlash to grab yet another hard-suckling interview with some random mainstream columnist who wants to try to establish blog "cred" by appearing at TBL.

McIntyre has become mainstream media's "token blog friend."

He blogs to mollify the mainstream sports media types he so transparently wants to be. I used to think that the Colin Cowherd incident was one of the era's defining moments of sports-blog unity; now I just recognize that Cowherd knows so little about sports blogs that he actually thought that TBL was a bonafide sports blog worth attacking.

Here's your ultimate data-point: Buzz Bissinger regularly cites him as the blogger he thinks is doing a GREAT job. Really? Seriously?! Cripes on a crutch: Buzz was better off with "All blogs suck." At least then, his ignorance was absolute, rather than selectively pitiful.

It is worth noting that I couldn't care less whether McIntyre continues to blog or not. Hey: Based on his growing audience and his revenue deals (which he conspicuously neglected to include in his survey of sports-media comp packages), he absolutely should keep blogging. And mainstream sports media sure seems to like his schtick. All I ask is that he stop speaking for anyone but himself.

Jason McIntyre doesn't speak for me. Thank god.

But if, alternatively, Jason McIntyre has turned into the face of sports blogging, Will is right: It's time to get out.

-- D.S.

UPDATE: Some very very good comments were submitted, mostly ripping the post. I'm still working through them all, but -- suffice to say -- I appreciated the thought that went into them, even if they strenuously disagreed with me or simply didn't like the way I presented my argument. As someone who appreciates critical analysis, I'm more than happy to take it of my own work. Sometimes I miss the open commenting here, because the conversation that happens AFTER the post is usually more interesting than the post itself.

Tuesday 06/24 A.M. Quickie:
USA Oops, NBA Draft, Imus, Haren, More

Sorry for the short (and late!) post today. Here's a link to the Sporting News column today, and it actually has a few of my more favorite items of the past month or so in it. I still think USA Hoops is screwing things up; I still love the prospect of a huge shake-up during the NBA Draft. (Brandon Jennings: Call me!) More later today.

-- D.S.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Leitch Weighs In On McIntyre Thing

If this is the last "epic-ish" post that Will Lietch will write as the lead editor of Deadspin, it is an ideal one. Please read.

Jason McIntyre Doesn't Speak For Us

Seriously: Who the hell deputized Jason McIntyre to speak on behalf of sports bloggers?

-- D.S.

Monday 06/23 A.M. Quickie:
ESPNFL, NBA Draft, MLB HR Heroes, More

Am I the first to "Brangelin-ize" the rumored partnership network between ESPN and the NFL taking over ESPN Classic as "ESPNFL?"

Whatever. The catchy nickname isn't nearly as big of a deal as the story itself, which could dramatically shake up the sports TV landscape -- even more in ESPN's direction, obviously. Even though it broke Saturday morning, I led today's Sporting News column with it.

Aside from ESPN Classic (or whatever they would call it) getting those 8 Thursday/Sunday game, it's still sketchy how this would work: Would they just replace ESPN Classic with NFL Network? Would it remain NFL Network but be funneled through ESPN? Is it just a business partnership? Would NFL Network replace ESPN's NFL coverage? (Unlikely!)

Anyway, it's pretty interesting.
But I have bigger things on my mind this week... like the NBA Draft, my favorite pro sports event of the year. It's hard to break through the rumors, but occasionally, you see a little detail that would tip you off that a team might go for one guy over another.

(For example, when I was reminded that
DeAndre Jordan played at Texas A&M for Mark Turgeon, who is a Kansas guy from the Brown era at KU, I immediately recognized that Larry Brown would probably try to draft him; it helps that Charlotte could use the extra size.)

So I'm totally intrigued by the Heat potentially giving up on
Michael Beasley to slide down to say, No. 4. Here's the thing: Pat Riley seems to love OJ Mayo, but it looks more and more like OJ Mayo will be picked by the star-barren T'wolves at No. 3, leaving the Heat with...who, exactly?

And then there's this idea that the
Sonics move up to No. 2: Can you imagine Beasley and Durant in the same lineup? I love that experiment.

Meanwhile, a good friend of mine is a huge Nuggets fan, and when I told him I thought the team was crazy to reject a Melo for Billups-and-Prince deal, he reminded me that Billups and AI, while a sick and complementary backcourt, are both old; you'd have to win NOW or never.

I'm slightly obsessed with Brandon Jennings and his potential to go from prep-to-pro, avoiding college but exiled from the NBA for at least another year. Why the NBA doesn't embrace him and make him the star of the D-League is beyond me; I guess they don't want to encourage the best high school players to skip that farcical one year of college to develop their skills under the eye of pro coaches. What a mistake. More on that later, if I remain outraged enough.

MLB: You cannot understand (or, actually, you probably can guess at) the level of conflict I feel over my loathing of the Red Sox and my enthusiasm for
Kevin Youkilis. (Let's not even get into my longstanding man-crush on Theo Epstein.) More names to know: Teixeira, Dempster, Duscherer, Gaston.

If you haven't seen the video of the late George Carlin's routine about football and baseball -- and it should be all over sports blog world today -- you should. You can find it at the end of today's Sporting News column.

More later. Draft stuff. A small warning shot across the sports-blog landscape. Maybe more on Jennings. It's a new week, and I'm slightly fired up.

-- D.S.