We like The Big Lead. Jason McIntyre's a perfectly nice fellow, and their infamous interview with Jason Whitlock remains one of our favorite sports blogging moments. But we have to make this clear: After reading the Los Angeles Times' elegy to the end of "wild times" on the Web, we have to ask Jason: Have you lost your goddamned mind?
The premise of the story, as far as we can understand it: After Buzz Bissinger's tirade — if that's what it can be called — against us on "Costas Now" a couple of months ago, the sports blogs collectively decided that they needed to clean up their act, lest they upset the intelligentsia's delicate sensibilities. (Or, to put it another way, "piss the shit out of them." As an example.) We were not aware of this collective, or this decision. Perhaps we missed the memo, or fell asleep during the meeting.
Or perhaps we just aren't flapping to-and-fro in whatever imagined zeitgeist wind we might have guessed existed. Here's a quote from McIntryre:
"Two years ago, I would have run with [the Kobe affair story]," said Jason McIntyre, owner and operator of the Big Lead. "But as the blogs get bigger, you have to be careful about what you say . . . you can't go with the first rumor you hear."
Wait ... Jason .. you used to run with the first rumor you heard? But seriously: If you have a vision for a site, don't you have to just follow through with it? Why would you change your vision for a site just because more people are reading it? Archives don't go away, you know; the stuff you wrote two years ago is still hanging around. (Believe you us, we know.) If something is worthwhile to post if you're getting 10 readers a day, shouldn't you stand behind it if you have a million readers a day? Changing what you do because you've become more popular is exactly why Bill Plaschke and Rick Reilly have declined so dramatically. Isn't that what this is all supposed to be against?
," said the guy whose site requires you to click through to read the whole post now.
But here's the real piece de resistance.
"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.' "
OK, really now. We agree wholeheartedly with Dan Steinberg, whose brilliant vivisection of Bissinger's "points" was summed up by, "Bissinger's delivery was marvelously entertaining, but that the crux of his argument made less sense than Emmitt Smith on mescaline." We agree: We've never had an issue with the way Bissinger handled himself on the show; the man has a right to his beliefs, and hey, his screaming just played into our hands anyway. That doesn't change the fact that his "argument" was incoherent and, for a writer we've always respected, shockingly wrong-headed. We have literally not met a single sports blogger who said, "Well, jeez, the screaming man on television made me re-evaluate what I do. Perhaps I should apply for that editorial assistant position I'd been hearing about." Jason must know an entirely different set of sports bloggers than we do. Maybe they're all on Yardbarker.
Listen: We understand. It's nice to imagine a need for a "bridge" between blogs and "MSM," the one who can tell Los Angeles Times reporters looking for a "new" angle exactly what they wanted to hear. That, don't worry folks, we're "the nice bloggers," we're the ones who "get it." We're hardly of the belief McIntyre is the worst offender in this; far from it. But is that what the point of all this has been? To "grow up?" The best sports blogs are based in truth and passion, and, yeah, sometimes that truth and passion come out in profane bursts, and sometimes they involve quarterbacks doing beer bongs. So freaking what? Did Buzz Bissinger really convince people there was something wrong with that? Or was everyone just faking in the first place?
(Oh, and Mike Florio and Daulerio, also quoted in the story, don't get a free pass here either; If Daulerio was quoted correctly — and he says he wasn't, so we should extend Florio and McIntyre, who addresses the piece here, the same courtesy — he seems to forget that the best sports blogs — including, we'd like to believe, this one — have always had a "journalistic element." Daulerio is as good a journalist as this site has ever had; we have to assume he was either misquoted or temporarily went into toxic shock right before the interview. And Florio says, "It's almost like the difference between Eddie Murphy and Bill Cosby. Can you still be funny without cursing?" Hey, Mike, to paraphrase: Why don't you have a jello pop and shut the fuck up? If we're really claiming that the future of sports blogs being like Bill Cosby is somehow a good thing, well, shit, we must be getting out at the right time.)
This is not a polemic against McIntyre, who's a fine guy and does good work over there, or anyone in specific. Everybody's got their own viewpoint, and should express it. (And McIntyre, Florio, everybody, they all express it well.) But, jeez: We have one week left with this shit, and we're seeing this fake storyline emerge — independent of that Times story — that sports blogs should strive for credibility, or mainstream recognition, or to make Bob Costas proud or something. Sports blogs are whatever the hell you want them to be. This is why they are so fun. If everyone's supposed to pat themselves on the back for becoming "respectable," well, shit, what's the point? We're proud of the work we've done here. Some of it has been stupid and juvenile; some of it has at least attempted to be intelligent; some of it has been masturbatory. If you liked it, awesome, we were glad to have you. If you didn't, there are tons of other options. But trying to strive for some sort of mythical "acceptance" is not only pointless — it's never gonna happen, no matter how much you might try to position yourself for it — it's not being honest to the only people who count: The people who take time out of their boring work day to come hang out on your site. It becomes about you, and how you're "positioned," rather than just a bunch of people coming together and talking about things they all care about.
This is to say, sports bloggers of the future: Who cares what Bob Costas or Buzz Bissinger or David Wharton think of you? Why should you care? Just take care of your own business, figure out what you do best, pray everyone just stays out of your way and then start ripping shit up. Fuck 'em if they can't take a joke.
Wild Times For Sports Blogs May Be Coming To An End [Los Angeles Times]